No new Lansing pot dispensaries

Posted at 7:34 AM, May 13, 2016

The Lansing City Council voted unanimously to stop new medical marijuana dispensaries from setting up shop in the city.

"Long overdue," Council Member Carol Wood, chair of the Public Safety Committee, said of her first reaction to the council passing a moratorium. She says she first tried to get that done in 2011.

"We are overrun," Council Member Jody Washington said. "We now have more than 70 in our city." Washington and Wood say the moratorium gives the city time to come up with a licensing ordinance that will regulate the businesses.

"We want to make really sure that we are providing safe services for people that need the medical marijuana, and that these are legitimate businesses with a legitimate purpose," Washington said.

The new moratorium relies on the public to notice when new dispensaries open up and to file a complaint with the city to let officials know. "You're going to have to be our eyes and ears on this." Wood said. Complaints can be sent to the city attorney's office. The city attorney says a complaint form will be available on the city's website soon.

If a complaint is filed against a dispensary, the owner will have a chance to prove it has been in business since Wednesday, May 12 or earlier.

Places that have been open longer will not have an advantage when the city does start issuing licenses, if the city council does decide to cap the number of dispensaries allowed. "It's first come, first served that meet the requirements," Wood said.

The Public Safety Committee is meeting Friday to work on the city's licensing ordinance. "My goal is to have an ordinance by July of this year," Wood said. "Have a licensing ordinance that the public will feel good about."

Council members say this moratorium was only possible because community members, the Lansing Chamber of Commerce, and even Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero came out in support of it.