|Photo: Ann Arbor Wellness Collective|
|Nebula, available at Ann Arbor Wellness Collective, 321 E. Liberty Avenue, Suite 1.|
The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously at its August 15 meeting to establish an application fee of $600 for licenses to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in the Michigan city.
According to city officials, the application fee covers a total of about nine hours of work by staff in the city clerk’s office, police department, planning department, and the city attorney’s office, reports The Ann Arbor Chronicle.
It sounds as if prospective dispensary owners won’t be through paying money to the city even after they cough up the six Benjamins. The ordinance distinguishes between an “application fee” (which this is) and a “license fee.” License fees, according to city ordinance, are to be reviewed by a licensing board, the members of which will be appointed by Mayor John Hieftje.
Council Member Sabra Briere (D-1st Ward) noted the application fee represents the costs of city staff time to review license applications, but is not the same as a licensing fee. She said a licensing fee has not been determined or discussed yet, reports Ryan J. Stanton at AnnArbor.com.
|Photo: University of Michigan Record Update|
|Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje is greeted by a giant mask in his likeness.|
The five-member licensing board — which will review and determine the licensing fee — will be made up of one member of the city council, one physician, and three other Ann Arbor residents. Appointments to this licensing board were also made at the August 15 meeting: Patricia O’Rourke, James Kenyon and John McKenna Rosevear. The three will serve three-year terms on the board, starting September 6.
Sabra Briere was nominated as the city council representative on the board. Still needed is a physician to serve on the licensing board.
“I’m looking for people who are not associated with the marijuana business obviously,” Mayor Hieftje said. “We need a physician and one who is not associated with the business and is not writing prescriptions for patients, and I asked the same question of the applicants for the other positions just to be sure that they weren’t a part of the business.”
In his application to serve on the board, board member Rosevear identified himself as the author of an article, “The Wild West,” which appeared in the Ann Arbor Observer in November 2010. Researching the piece, he said he was able to enter most of the marijuana dispensaries in the city.
“In 1965, I wrote Pot: A Handbook of Marihuana, went to the penitentiary in 1966, and the book was published in 1967,” Rosevear wrote in his application. He said is now a state-registered medical marijuana patient.
Board member Kenyon is a computer engineer who works as information technology director at Optimization Group Inc., in Ann Arbor. He is “generally interested in seeing medical marijuana work out — don’t want to see ‘bad actors’ remove a useful tool,” he wrote in his application. He said he thinks medicinal cannabis helps manage migraines “far better” than mainstream pharmaceuticals.
Board member O’Rourke is an office manager and bookkeeper for Shoestring Enterprises Inc., in Ann Arbor. She wrote in her application that she’s just interested in doing something good for her community and, with a background working with lawyers, she believes she can fairly evaluate license applications.
According to Mayor Hieftje, the advisory board will meet a couple of times early on the discuss its mission, and then may meet only twice a year after that.
The new ordinance takes effect on August 24, 60 days after its date of legal publication on June 23. Medical marijuana dispensary applicants who war already in business before the city council enacted its August 5, 2010 moratorium have 60 days after the effective date to apply for a license.
Under the licensing ordinance, an application for a dispensary license must be submitted to the city and reviewed by various city staff, including the city clerk’s office, police, planning, and the city attorney’s office.
Local medical marijuana activist/attorney Dennis Hayes addressed the city council at the start of Monday’s meeting and expressed support for the application fee.
“I would encourage you to pass such a fee, simply because — as all things implemented that are new and different — you incur substantially more expenses in getting them organized and together,” he said. “I think this is going to be well implemented, and intelligently so, and serve as a useful and productive example to the rest of the state.”
But the city’s already run into some static from prospective applicants. A letter sent out by Wendy Rampson, head of planning for the city, ran into objections because of the city’s insistence that “proof” be provided that a dispensary was in operation before August 5, 2010, beyond an affidavit to that effect.
The city’s ordinance seems to empower the licensing board, not staff in the city attorney’s office or the planning department, with evaluating the merits of dispensary license applications.