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Lottery makes way for Meridian medical marijuana dispensaries

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Meridian Township has cleared the way for five medical marijuana dispensaries to operate across the township with a lottery drawing late last month.

Meridian’s dispensaries will only be accessible by those with a medical marijuana card, approved for a host of ailments. The township will not allow recreational sales in the immediate future.

“We want to get a history of what it means to our township, as to policing costs, for example,” said Meridian Township Supervisor Ron Styka. “Lansing’s a very different place than Meridian Township. They’ve had a lot of controversies that cloud the data.”

Meridian Township is wading into the marijuana market with caution while other local townships are staying out of the water, and barring both medical and recreational marijuana sales from their jurisdictions.

Styka said it had been a long process —the township had debated allowing medical marijuana sales for two years — well before the statewide voter approval of recreational sales last fall.

The Meridian dispensaries are still in the infant stage of planning, and all will have to go back to the Meridian Township Board of Trustees to get a special use permit, a zoning stipulation common for many small businesses.

Lansing handed out licenses through a complex scoring system. Meridian Township, like East Lansing, instead created overlay zones away from daycares, religious worship centers and schools where the businesses could operate.

Unlike East Lansing, the township then held a lottery last month to determine which businesses to approve, awarding only one to each zone. Only two of six locations were competitive. Styka said the township was also ready to approve growing and processing locations, but nobody applied.

Conservative local governments across Michigan will put a damper on the end of marijuana prohibition. While residents are free to use cannabis within the confines of their home, people will have to travel in many places to buy any. A majority of Michigan communities have told the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency that they plan to remain dry.

Lansing Township has banned both medical and recreational dispensaries from its jurisdiction, leaving money on the table. It will, however, allow marijuana growing facilities. Delta and Delhi townships aren’t allowing any marijuana facilities. Neither will Williamston or Grand Ledge. Other than a potential dispensary in northern East Lansing, Clinton County will be a completely dry county.

“Once we know the rules of the game, if there’s a desire on the board, we can revisit that and see if we want to allow any facilities to be licensed. It’s a ban that could be reconsidered,” Delta Township Supervisor Ken Fletcher told City Pulse in January.

Windsor Township will allow up to 30 growers, but no dispensaries, however neither will be allowed in the village of Dimondale, which lies within the township. Webberville will allow unlimited grow sites, but also no dispensaries. Leslie will allow grow sites but not dispensaries.

Some nearby communities have been more progressive. Ionia and Ann Arbor are not putting any caps in place on the number of dispensaries, while Owosso will allow four provisioning centers and Jackson is allowing for three.

The constrained local market could produce a boon for Lansing and East Lansing, which will have recreational dispensaries online as soon as the state approves them. They’ll get the jobs and tax dollars associated with the sales to the general adult public that the townships will not.

Styka said the potential for tax revenue was not a factor in his community’s decision to forge ahead with medical marijuana provisioning centers — or to hold off on recreational facilities.

“We have a good revenue stream,” he said. “The revenue is not the incentive as much as opposed to getting this right for residents and patients.”

The Meridian locations are split across the township, from BRT Capital 4 at 1838 Towner Road near the Clinton County line to Cured Leaf TC at 3520 Okemos Road, just north of Jolly Road, the southern edge of the township. Other locations include Haslett Gallery at 2119 Haslett Road, Apex Ultra Worldwide at 4366 Hagadorn Road and a prime location near the Meridian Mall at 1614 W Grand River Avenue.

“In some locations, there’s an existing tenant,” Styka said. “It’ll take a while to get their act together.”

The township held a lottery to weed out qualified applicants in each of six overlay zones, but the Grand River location, won by the company DNVK, was the only one of the initial five that was competitive. A sixth dispensary, to be located along Grand River near the East Lansing city limits, is tied up due to a legal dispute over zoning confusion. The lotto winner for that zone has not been released.

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