City Council discusses marijuana permits, recovery month

Monday, September 16, 2019 - 10:41pm

City council members discuss a rezoning proposal that would effect downtown Ann Arbor at a City Council meeting Monday night.

City council members discuss a rezoning proposal that would effect downtown Ann Arbor at a City Council meeting Monday night. Buy this photo
Kelsey Pease/Daily

The Ann Arbor City Council discussed a variety of legislative issues facing the community, ranging from zoning laws to policing to marijuana licensing, at their meeting Monday evening. 

To start the meeting, Mayor Christopher Taylor acknowledged September as National Recovery Month. He gave two recovering addicts a chance to testify to the wealth of addiction recovery resources in the Ann Arbor area, including the Dawn Farm outpatient and detoxification programs. 

Sam, seven years clean, commended Ann Arbor’s recovery resources. 

“This is one of the more supportive recovery communities that I have been a part of,” Sam said. “I have never been to a place that had such a celebration of recovery and professional opportunities... where I can stand up in a City Council meeting and declare that I am in recovery.”

The council then moved forward with a resolution approving a purchase order of new police body cameras to be used for the next five years, provided by Axon Enterprise, Inc. 

City Councilmember Kathy Griswold, D-Ward 2, pointed to the benefits of equipping the city’s police force with more state-of-the-art accountability technology.  

“I am absolutely thrilled we are moving forward with this purchase,” Griswold said. “My one question is, this is a five-year contract — will this see enough money and does the contract stipulate that we are going to have fully functioning body cams for the full length of the five years so that we don’t have the problem that we face right now?” 

Taylor later brought the council’s focus to the expansion of legal access to marijuana in the city. Members of the council expressed considerable disagreement about the flexibility and general size of the limit on the number of medical marijuana permits in the city.

Councilmember Jane Lumm, I-Ward 2, said she was concerned about not having enough time to approve new ordinances expanding the amount of permits for medical marijuana facilities in the city.

“I think it’s too much to digest in too short a time,” Lumm said. “The council did not have our normal opportunity to ask questions; our questions have to be submitted by noon on Wednesday. We received this late, at the end of the day on Friday.” 

Councilmember Jeff Hayner, D-Ward 1, said some constituents indicated concern about the large amount of marijuana investment potentially overwhelming the city and crowding out small businesses offering other goods. 

“I’m suggesting that we put a limit on this and … we can always come back and change it,” Hayner said.

But Councilmember Ali Ramlawi, D-Ward 5, voiced a general skepticism towards creating inflexible types of limits on the amount of medical marijuana permits offered.

“Maybe you want more safety compliance facilities … or you need fewer growers or more processors … the straight-across three-dozen (limit) under all these categories I think is too inhibitive,” Ramlawi said.