Board Recommends 10 Marijuana Licenses

At its Jan. 31, 2012 meeting, Ann Arbor’s medical marijuana licensing board voted to recommend licenses for 10 medical marijuana dispensaries located in the city. A decision on the award of the licenses will now be considered by the Ann Arbor city council.

Businesses recommended for a license under Ann Arbor’s local ordinance are: (1) Green Planet, 700 Tappan St.; (2) Treecity Health Collective, 1712 S. State St.; (3) Ann Arbor Health Collective, 2350 E. Stadium Blvd.; (4) OM of Medicine, 112 S. Main St.; (5) People’s Choice, 2245 W. Liberty St.; (6) Greenbee Collective, 401 S. Maple St.; (7) Ann Arbor Wellness Collective, 321 E. Liberty St.; (8) MedMarx at Arborside, 1818 Packard St.; (9) Medical Grass Station, 325 W. Liberty St.; and (10) PR Center, 3820 Varsity Dr.

The recommendations for Treecity and Greenbee were made conditionally – Greenbee must secure adequate parking, and Treecity must move to a location allowed under the city’s medical marijuana zoning rules.

On June 20, 2011 the Ann Arbor city  council enacted a zoning and a licensing ordinance regulating medical marijuana businesses – which included the establishment of a five-member licensing board. The council had imposed a moratorium on Aug. 5, 2010 for 120 days – it prohibited the future use of property inside the city for cultivation facilities or dispensaries. The moratorium was extended several times in the course of the council’s consideration of the medical marijuana issue.

The timing of the application process for pre-moratorium businesses for the first year’s applications was slightly earlier than for businesses established after the moratorium. And the maximum number of licenses available in the first year is a function of the number of applications received from pre-moratorium businesses – which the city determined to be nine. Those nine plus 10% (rounded up) yielded the number of licenses available – 10. The one post-moratorium business is Grass Station.

The city had received a total of 10 applications. A zoning compliance permit is a requirement for application, and the city initially denied such permits to Treecity (1712 S. State Street), which is in a district zoned as O (office), and Green Planet (700 Tappan St.), located in the Casa Dominick PUD (planned unit development) district. Both businesses appealed to the zoning board of appeals. And at its Jan. 25, 2012 meeting, the ZBA granted Green Planet’s appeal, overturning the decision of city staff.

However, the ZBA rejected Treecity’s appeal. The rejection of Treecity’s appeal by the ZBA resulted in the recommendation of a conditional license.

Ann Arbor’s local laws require that businesses operate in conformance with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which was enacted by statewide voter referendum in 2008. The city has explicitly required applicants for dispensary licenses to explain how their business conforms with the law, including an Aug. 23, 2011 court of appeals ruling that has been interpreted by many authorities to mean that no medical marijuana dispensaries are legal. [.pdf of the McQueen case ruling].

Ann Arbor’s city attorney, Stephen Postema, is open to the possibility that dispensary business models may exist that do conform to the McQueen case ruling, but has not issued a written opinion describing business models that he believes conform.

Also at its Jan. 31 meeting, the licensing board recommended that the initial licensing fee be established at $1,100 with the annual renewal fee set at $350. More coverage: [link]