Ann Arbor’s new zoning regulations for medical marijuana businesses took effect last month, and the city has seen a flurry of applications from cannabis entrepreneurs.
That includes existing dispensaries seeking to become official under new city and state regulations, new ones looking to open, and at least one planning an expansion in the heart of downtown.
A review of city records shows at least 25 dispensaries have sought approval to operate in Ann Arbor this year. Four of those already have gone through zoning approval and 21 others are pending.
The city three months ago agreed to let 18 existing marijuana businesses continue to operate while they go through the new licensing process that’s now playing out.
The city’s Planning Commission has the task of considering each dispensary’s application and deciding, with city staff input, whether they qualify for special zoning approval to allow them to operate.
They do not go to City Council for approval, though the council established the rules for them. One of those rules is that dispensaries must be spaced at least 600 feet apart to avoid clusters of them.
In recent weeks, the Planning Commission has approved zoning for four dispensaries: Arbors Wellness at 321 E. Liberty St., Treecity Health Collective at 2730 Jackson Ave., Greenstone Society at 338 S. Ashley St., and Stadium Ventures Inc. at 2460 W. Stadium Blvd.
The commission postponed consideration of two other dispensaries — Green Planet at 700 Tappan Ave. and Liv Wellness and Cafe at 603 E. William St. — at its last meeting.
Applications for many others are still pending and none have been denied yet, said Brett Lenart, the city’s planning manager.
Lenart notes once the zoning is approved, dispensaries still need building compliance approval, permit approval through the city clerk’s office and license approval through the state.
City records show the following 21 existing or proposed dispensaries in Ann Arbor are still seeking zoning approval right now:
•Peoples Choice Alternative Medicine, 2247 W. Liberty St.
•District Arbor 1, 3005 Packard Road
•District Arbor 3, 3720 Washtenaw Ave.
•Om of Medicine, 111 S. Main St.
•Scientific Method Holdings Inc., 202 Miller Ave.
•Scientific Method Holdings II Inc., 1115 Broadway St.
•CannArbor Inc., 2019 W. Stadium Blvd.
•Exclusive Brands LLC, 3820 Varsity Drive
•Exclusive Brands LLC, 1251 N. Main St.
•Michigan Natural Remedies, 1202 Packard St.
•Parkhurst Services, 3294 Winewood Ave.
•Liberty Gallery Inc., 702 S. Main St.
•The Rabbit Club, 450 S. Main St.
•Green Planet, 700 Tappan Ave.
•Liv Wellness and Cafe, 603 E. William St.
•Pure Roots LLC, 3430 Washtenaw Ave.
•TC MI Ann Arbor 2 LLC (TreeCity), 1958 S. Industrial Highway
•Huron View, 3152 Packard
•Medicine Man of Ann Arbor Inc., 2793 Plymouth Road
•Arborside, 1818 Packard St.
•Bloom City Club, 423 Miller Ave.
Lenart said there’s no “District Arbor 2” on the list because that was one of six additional dispensary applications that were submitted but were within 600 feet of other dispensaries, so they’re not allowed.
The application submitted by Exclusive Brands LLC for 3820 Varsity Drive, doing business as the Exclusive PR Center, is for a growing/processing facility with a dispensary.
Lenart said he believes about five growing or processing facilities have been approved.
As for the dispensaries awaiting official approval, Lenart said the Planning Commission will be considering the applications over the coming months. Four are scheduled for the commission’s April 3 meeting, and another three on April 17.
Dispensaries have submitted their safety and security plans, business plans, floor layouts, hours of operation, odor mitigation plans, lease agreements, landlord permissions and other information.
Om of Medicine, which has been operating at 112 S. Main St. for several years, is seeking approval of a new dispensary location across the street at 111 S. Main St., where it plans to relocate.
The plans submitted to the city last month indicated the company was investing $200,000 into building out its new and bigger space.
Once complete, Om of Medicine intends to move from its 4,000-square-foot, third-floor space on the west side of Main Street to a 5,500-square-foot space with street-level presence on the east side of Main Street, occupying the first floor and basement level.
“I’m excited about that. We’ll get a lot more walk ins,” said Mark Passerini, Om of Medicine co-founder.
Passerini said the renovations are underway and the new space should be open by June. He said there’s definitely high demand for medical marijuana in Ann Arbor and people travel from as far as the Upper Peninsula to come to Om of Medicine for medical marijuana.
He said the dispensary currently serves about 80 to 90 patients per day. He said people, including older folks, like the professional setting, which is why they travel so far to come here.
As the industry continues to grow and if recreational marijuana becomes legal in Michigan, Passerini said, Om of Medicine may further expand its new space to include the second floor in the future.
But at the moment, while medical marijuana dispensaries are still in the process of becoming official in the eyes of the city and state, he said, “We’re in this kind of limbo area, kind of purgatory.”
The proposals submitted to the city for dispensaries known as District Arbor 1 and District Arbor 3 both describe them as new medical marijuana companies led by businessman Jason Abro, who is identified as the operator of 43 Sprint stores and 10 MetroPCS stores.
“The company was inspired by the personal experiences of the ownership group, witnessing first-hand the positive impact that medical marihuana can provide for suffering patients,” the proposals state.
“Jason is passionate about helping sick people with alternatives to live a better life,” they continue, promising to provide a comfortable and secure environment with knowledgeable and passionate team members who care about improving the lives of patients.