New medical marijuana dispensary opens near campus amid new licensing requirements

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 - 6:22pm

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Natsume Ono/Daily

Amid a new Michigan licensing act and an updated Ann Arbor ordinance, a new marijuana dispensary has opened near the University of Michigan’s campus. Green Planet dispenses medical marijuana to registered patients and is located at 700 Tappan Ave., across from the Ross School of Business and the Law Quadrangle.

Green Planet is one of many new dispensaries opening in the Ann Arbor area after the legal changes put into effect earlier this year.

According to its website, the dispensary is part of a non-profit group aiming to assist medical marijuana patients and share information about marijuana’s medical benefits.

Medical marijuana usage has garnered recent controversy regarding addiction potential and regulation among government officials and the media in recent years. However, some sources state medicinal marijuana can help treat different forms of cancer, mental illness and more. The drug has not yet been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration.

City Planning Manager Brett Lenart told The Michigan Daily the dispensary met the requirements for approval.

“The Planning Commission did find that 700 Tappan Ave met the requirements set forth by City Ordinance, and recommended approval of a Special Exception Use Permit,” Lenart wrote in an email interview.  “As part of the conditions of approval, the applicant will need to close the vehicular curb cut, which will reduce one instance of potential pedestrian/vehicular conflicts.The applicant still has to demonstrate compliance with building codes, and needs to apply for and receive operating permit and license from the City Clerk and State of Michigan.”

Green Planet Director Mike McLeod felt Ann Arbor was the obvious choice to open the dispensary because of the city’s leadership in science, knowledge, medicine and cannabis. Many of Green Planet’s workers are U-M alumni.

“Green Planet is passionate about medical cannabis,” McLeod wrote in an email interview. “We provide our patients with the best service and quality of medicine available.  Green Planet has the most knowledgeable and experienced staff in our industry, many of whom are U of M grads including graduate degrees from the School of Public Health and Pharmacology.”

City Councilmember Chuck Warpehoski, D-Ward 5, explained dispensaries in the city have certain regulations they must follow in order to operate, such as designated locations and proximity to other dispensaries. He also said the city has a history of supporting marijuana usage.

“Ann Arbor has long been a town that has been tolerant and supportive of marijuana use,” Warpehoski said. “With the state putting forward regulations that allow for a clear pathway for opening dispensaries, there has been a huge uptick of interest.”

According to Warpehoski, the city has not received any recent complaints regarding dispensaries.

A ballot proposal to be voted on in November could legalize marijuana usage across the state of Michigan, which Warpehoski believes could assist law enforcement. If passed, the law would make possession and sale of marijuana up to 2.5 ounces legal and impose a 10-percent excise and 6-percent sales tax on retail purchases.

“I believe there would be a huge relief on our criminal justice system,” Warpehoski said. “It would be a significantly positive thing to address the problem of mass incarceration.”