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Michigan to Vote on Medical Marijuana Expansion

The proposed ordinance would allow dispensaries within 500 feet of places of worship with nothing changing for distances regarding schools.

DETROIT - The Detroit Free press reported that leaders from the community and local churches are objecting to proposals for the November ballot that would negate current rules banning dispensaries near parks and churches. The two proposals in question would allow an expansion of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Opposed to the proposals include Councilman Scott Benson and Pastor Marvin Winans. While Pastor Winans complained about having to smell marijuana as he drove down the street, hecklers yelled “free the weed.” Benson is concerned that the legislature spent two years working on a zoning ordinance regulating the city’s 283 dispensaries, and the new proposal would obliterate their progress.

Supporters of the ordinance include dispensary owners who were forced to shut down after spending hefty sums to open businesses, improve building’s infrastructures, pay city taxes and hire employees. The current ordinance is responsible for shutting down 175 dispensaries already and requires dispensaries to be 1000 feet from schools and places of worship. They say that the city council has been far too strict with regulation.

The proposed ordinance would allow dispensaries within 500 feet of places of worship with nothing changing for distances regarding schools. However, the new ordinance would allow dispensaries to open near parks and daycare centers, which currently requires a distance of 1000 feet.

Citizens for Sensible Cannabis argue that the city needs the dispensaries to improve Detroit’s floundering economy and provide employment opportunities. Dispensary owners are even more concerned with being able to help their suffering patients with all of the recent closures. More than 63 percent of voters supported legalizing medical marijuana in Michigan.

Grosse Pointe Farms owner Adam MacDonald said that he is “extremely disturbed” by the notion that he would be unable to care for his seizure patients. Supporters of the proposal also say that because of their security systems, they are making neighborhoods safer than before. The vote is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Niko Mann is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles.

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