Detroit council to address marijuana shops, parking

Regulation of Detroit’s growing number of marijuana shops will be among a handful of issues the Detroit City Council expects to tackle when it returns today after a six-week recess.

An effort spearheaded by Councilman James Tate to set ground rules for these shops is gaining support as more marijuana dispensaries pop up across the city. Some council members are growing increasingly concerned about the violence and other nefarious activities these stores seem to be attracting.

“Glorified weed spots” is how Councilman Scott Benson referred to some of the dispensaries in his district in northeast Detroit.

Detroit police arrested two people and confiscated two firearms and drugs in a July raid at a dispensary called Detroit Medz, at Hubbell and Puritan. In early August, shots were fired during the day outside a shop called King of Budz, Benson said.

Under state law, Michiganders who possess state registry cards can legally use medical marijuana. Dozens of shops — the exact number is unknown — have opened around Detroit, but the city has no laws regulating dispensaries.

Tate is putting the finishing touches on an ordinance he has been working on for months to govern these shops.

“We have been working through recess to finalize a draft of the ordinance and look to have it introduced in September,” Tate said in a text message to the Free Press.

An early draft of proposed city regulations would require dispensaries to obtain a city-issued business license. Other recommendations included a restriction that dispensaries could not be less than 1,000 feet from each other, nor within 2,000 feet of a school, library, museum, child care center or city recreation center.

Tate has said the city needs to ensure that its many dispensaries aren’t selling marijuana to children, aren’t violating building codes and aren’t upsetting nearby residents’ quality of life.

Benson said regulations should not prohibit legitimate, responsible dispensaries from providing medical marijuana to customers in need.

“I do not want to restrict people from getting the medicine they need,” Benson said.

Marijuana dispensaries are one of several topics council members are expected to address in the coming months.

Council President Brenda Jones’ chief of staff, Stephen Grady, said other issues at hand include residents’ concerns about the new parking meters; ways to address violence in neighborhoods and at block parties; and monitoring business developments to make sure Detroit companies and residents are being hired.

Detroit parking enforcers resumed handing out tickets Sept. 1 after a grace period for drivers to get familiar with the city’s new parking meter system.

Detroit recently installed 500 ParkDetroit kiosks along with a companion smartphone app available through Apple iTunes and through Google Play for android phones.

The kiosks are in downtown, Midtown, Corktown and along Michigan Avenue and Vernor in southwest Detroit, and Livernois in northwest Detroit.

Councilwoman Janee Ayers said the city’s parking department will continue community outreach to inform residents about the changes.

“Actually, the feedback has been positive about the parking meters,” Ayers said of comments she has received.

During the summer recess, Ayers said she spent time walking in the city and talking to residents about their issues. The No.1 topic was crime. She said community policing will be a priority for her when the council returns.

“Every door I knocked on (the topic) was public health and safety,” Ayers said.

Source: Detroit Free Press