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B4 Ordinance Restrictive to Dispensaries

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Although medical marijuana dispensaries have been legal in East Lansing for more than a month, Ken Van Every said he would never expand his business to East Lansing.

"They're putting a lot of restrictions on it," said Van Every, a Lansing dispensary owner. "You need to be able to be out there to be competitive."

Although East Lansing continues to move forward in the world of medical marijuana, the issue is still shrouded in controversy – both inside and outside the city's walls.

Last Tuesday, East Lansing city officials received the first application for a dispensary in East Lansing – one month after the moratorium expired – slated to be located in a new building on Lake Lansing Road near Abbot Road.

But many close to the issue, including patients and dispensary owners, still say they are unhappy about the ordinance, claiming it is too restrictive – hurting both patients and business owners.

Jonathan Beagley, an MSU alumnus and medical marijuana patient, said the current ordinance – which bans storefront retail-style dispensaries, allowing them only to operate in B4 business zones far from the downtown area – hinders his ability to get his medicine.

"If there were a place downtown, that would be far easier for me to go to a dispensary," Beagley said. "Instead of spending an hour trekking out to Lansing and then figuring what I need and getting back, it would probably take about half the time."

Beagley also is the founder of the MSU Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter and a member of the Michigan Association for Patients and Caregivers.

Still, Beagley said he would look into the new East Lansing dispensary once it opens, as other factors – such as price – also influence his decision about which dispensary to purchase from.

Robin Schneider, co-chairwoman of the Greater Lansing Medical Marijuana Business Association, said the ordinance unfairly segregates medical marijuana patients from other patients.

Schneider said most B4 districts are too far from bus routes, making it difficult for patients to get to dispensaries.

"It's not consistent with zoning for pharmacies, where people get other drugs," she said. "They want to hide dispensaries in back office buildings."

East Lansing Councilmember Nathan Triplett said the ordinance provides patients easy access to the medication they need.

"Our goal is to look out for patients' interests," Triplett said. "These are still highly accessible areas of the city."

Triplett said the ordinance is geared for accessibility, not to generate maximum business profits, and the ordinance is more lax than other areas in Michigan.

Brian Fenech, an Ann Arbor defense attorney who specializes in the medical marijuana industry, said East Lansing's zoning plan is not more restrictive than other cities in Michigan and is reasonable compared to other municipalities that have banned medical marijuana altogether.

"I think the majority of municipalities are exploring districting schemes as opposed to the outright ban," Fenech said.

He said limiting dispensaries to B4 zones still provides patients reasonable access.

Some business owners in the medical marijuana industry say the ordinance does not allow for dispensaries to prosper.

Jeff Hank, an East Lansing attorney, said dispensary owners he represents don't want to come to East Lansing because the ordinance is too restrictive.

"They basically banned medical marijuana without banning it," Hank said.

City Manager Ted Staton said most of the demand is being met in Meridian Township and Lansing as the regulation is more lax.

"A substantial portion of the demand is being met someplace else," he said.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: statenews.com
Author: Ian Kullgren
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: State News, Inc.
Website: B4 ordinance restrictive to dispensaries
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