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Eastpointe City Council OKs medical marijuana ordinances

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 19, 2020

 The Eastpointe City Council approved two ordinance changes at its meeting June 16 to allow medical marijuana facilities within the city.

The Eastpointe City Council approved two ordinance changes at its meeting June 16 to allow medical marijuana facilities within the city.

File photo

EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe City Council approved two long-simmering ordinance changes that will allow medical marijuana facilities to be located within the city.

The votes took place at the council’s June 16 meeting. Two proposals were read and voted on. The first had to do with the necessary zoning changes to allow such businesses.

“This specified what buffer zones were required,” explained Councilman Cardi DeMonaco. “This was a 50-foot buffer zone between the dispensary and residencies, 500 feet from schools, parks and places of worship, and the dispensaries need to be 1,000 feet apart from each other.”

The second dictated the rules that would need to be followed by the businesses.

“The second measure covered the building regulations,” continued DeMonaco. “This details what the application process is like, a three-person group of city administrators reviewing applications and so forth. Two testing facilities are allowed by law, three provisioning center licenses are allowed and two transport facility licenses are allowed. … A public meeting will be held when the applications are considered.”

Two changes were made at the meeting to the proposals.

“We voted to approve it with two changes: dispensaries could only be housed in free-standing buildings, not as part of a strip mall or something, and parking being specifically designated for that dispensary,” said DeMonaco.

The measures were voted on together with DeMonaco, Councilwoman Sarah Lucido and Councilman Harvey Curley voting to approve the measures and Mayor Monique Owens and Councilman Rob Baker voting against.

“I voted ‘no’ because I don’t feel like our image of a family town goes with the idea of medical marijuana,” said Owens regarding her vote. “I’m on the Eastpointe Drug Coalition, and that contributed to me not feeling it goes along with our message. I think we need to bring resources to our community that will help it grow and I don’t feel like it will do so.”

Owens also said that if medical marijuana businesses are to be located in Eastpointe, that she also wants more effort to be taken to help minority individuals who wish to start such businesses.

“I also don’t feel like the marijuana industry gives minorities a fair shot to get into the industry,” she said. “Most people filling up the jails because of marijuana are minorities, and I think we need a more fair handle on the issue if people are going to profit from that same business.”

She said she suggested additions be added to the proposals to encourage such goals, but they were not included in the final versions of what was approved by the council.

“I asked for a provision to create some type of policy where minorities can get a higher chance to be a part of being part of these businesses,” said Owens. “I think there needs to be a fair opportunity for all people. It was challenged by council, though, and not included in what was in the ordinances we approved on June 16. It is something I want to return to at future meetings. This hasn’t been done before in the state of Michigan, and knowing the racial injustice history in Eastpointe, this could be a good step forward for us.”

DeMonaco said he supported the approval of the proposals because if Michigan residents have voted to allow such businesses, they should be readily available, and he thinks people should have access to them in their home community.

“My thinking was that if the state Legislature and people of Michigan decide marijuana usage is legal throughout the state, why would we not allow them in the city?” he remarked. “Also, why not allow residents to go to businesses in their own city.”

The application process for businesses that wish to open in Eastpointe will take some time, but the City Council said it will be taking steps to put time limits on the wait time so that interested businesses will not be caught in limbo.

“City administrators need to create the applications for starting such a business here, but we are required to put that all together within 60 days so people can start applying,” DeMonaco said. “The applications process is required to be completed within 90 days.”

DeMonaco believes this will be a helpful step for the city.

“I think this is a good step forward,” he said. “We have worked a long time with the Planning Commission to open medical marijuana facilities in Eastpointe. Anyone here who needs medical marijuana can buy it here in our city, and this also will fill in a few vacant locations in Eastpointe as well.”