CITY HOSTS MARIJUANA MEETING
More than 120 attend workshop on regulating drug
Lapeer attorney and medical marijuana advocate Bernard Jocuns addressed the panel and Lapeer city officials Monday evening during a workshop session held at the Lapeer County EMS headquarters in Elba Township. Concerned the city may prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries in the city he asked, “Where do you expect them (patients) to get their medicine?” Photo by Jeff HoganELBA TWP. — Approximately 120 people from throughout Lapeer County and the region attended a special workshop meeting Monday evening hosted by the Lapeer City Commission at the Lapeer County EMS headquarters building in Elba Township.
Nearly 15 people in the generally polite audience asked questions or made statements toward a panel of expert speakers and Lapeer officials assembled to offer their perspective related to medical marijuana. The purpose of the meeting was to allow officials and the public to hear about new medical marijuana legislation that has been in effect since December 2016. Cities, villages and townships have until next December to decide whether and how they intend to regulate medical marijuana operations in their communities.
Monday’s presenters included: Justin Dunaskiss, a partner with a consulting and lobbying firm working with a medical marijuana trade association to advocate for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act; Doug Piggott, a planner with Rowe Professional Services Company that has worked with other municipalities to amend their zoning to address the marijuana act; Lapeer Police Chief Todd Alexander who outlined his concerns from a law enforcement perspective; and Jim Smiertka, attorney for the City of Lansing that has drawn numerous draft ordinances of regulations as the city prepares for proposed medical marijuana operations that can begin to apply Dec. 10, 2017. The City of Lansing, estimated Smiertka, has spent about 40 hours each month in city staff time to keep up with and draft ordinances and city policy as it relates to regulation of medical marijuana in the state’s capital.
- Lapeer County Commissioner Ian Kempf was in attendance as were Sheriff Scott McKenna, Undersheriff Jeremy Howe as well as several village and township officials from around the county.
- Under new state law, there are five classes of licenses available for application that include grow centers, provisioning centers (dispensaries), secure transporters that move product and currency as well as safety compliance centers (independent testing laboratories).
- Dunaskiss replied that transportation of product and currency will be handled by two-man teams using unmarked vehicles. “Someone will always stay with the load and vehicle,” he said.
- One of Chief Alexander’s primary concerns related to medical marijuana was who will look out for patient safety, but also for the well-being of the public at large. “Will it lead to more crime, traffic accidents and medical incidents? Time will tell on that.”
- Lapeer City Commissioner Joshua Atwood questioned why the medical marijuana industry remains a predominantly cash-oriented business that might present issues with such a high volume of money being moved about between marijuana-related businesses or even to lending institutions.