Michigan Town To Treat Medical Marijuana Growers As Businesses


Photo: Hendrike
The color of money.

​A town planning committee in Michigan on Tuesday will present a plan to officials that would amend the city’s zoning ordinance to treat medical marijuana growers as businesses, forcing dispensaries to operate from general business districts rather than homes, reports Jonathan Oosting of MLive.com.

The scheme, from the Royal Oak Plan Commission, would allow dispensaries in general business districts as a special land use, according to Catherine Kavanaugh at The Macomb Daily.
In Royal Oak, these districts are on Woodward Avenue, Main Street north of downtown, and some parts of Coolidge Highway and 14 Mile Road.
Dispensaries would be banned within 1,000 feet of schools, libraries, parks, playgrounds, day cares, places of worship, or other dispensaries. Hours of operation would be limited to 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Critics of the Royal Oak plan say it would make it impossible for growers to stay in business, as renting a storefront to serve only five patients isn’t practical.


​Planning Director Tim Thwing, however, points to estimates like that of Brad Forrester of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, who has estimated that growers serving five patients could earn around $50,000 annually.
“Since the advocates of medical marijuana stress the business opportunities presented by becoming a primary caregiver, they can not argue that the city does not have the right to treat them as a business and regulate them as such under our zoning ordinance,” Thwing said in a report to the Plan Commission.

Michigan growers, called “primary caregivers” under the state’s medical marijuana law, are allowed to grow a dozen plants each for up to five registered patients.
More than 2,400 caregivers are already registered to dispense marijuana in Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press. Many are already cashing in on the potentially lucrative industry.
The patient/customer base is also rapidly expanding, with more than 10,000 medical marijuana patients applying since April, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), which has been overwhelmed by the demand. 
At an average rate of 66 medical marijuana applications per day, MDCH last week announced that it would be unable to process them within the 15-day time frame specified under state law, and asked users of the system for patience. The agency said it is dealing with a five-week backlog.
“The staff is diligently working to process the applications and is having difficulty responding to all the voicemails left on the Medical Marihuana Registry phone line,” the agency explained.