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Questions raised regarding loophole in medical marijuana lottery


citycomissionfeb11-4

Mount Pleasant City Commission discuss items on the evening's agenda Feb. 11 at Mount Pleasant City Hall.

Questions were raised regarding an application process that will decide which potential medical marijuana retailers will receive licenses at a Feb. 11 Mount Pleasant City Commission meeting.  

Three licenses will be drawn in an upcoming lottery Feb. 13. The city received 57 applications from 22 prospective marijuana business owners. 

At the Feb. 11 commission meeting, Commissioner Lori Gillis claimed the lottery was unfair and presented a loophole to the “applicant with the deepest pockets,” since applicants could apply under an indefinite amount of properties. 

Gillis proposed a temporary postponement of the lottery for additional research, consideration and discussion. She provided the commission with the following four alternative solutions:  

  • Meet with the city’s new attorney for his advice on eliminating the loophole. 
  • Provide an opportunity for Commissioners Amy Perschbacher and Pete Tolas to give their opinion on the current system. 
  • Grant a unique entity one license for one provisioning center that applied before the Feb. 1 deadline. 
  • Discuss exploring the option of no limits for provisioning centers like many other municipalities have adopted and allow the market to work as intended. 

Gillis emphasized these solutions would “level the playing field” between entrepreneurs, small business owners and those Gillis said were looking to monopolize the medical marijuana industry. 

Deb Carey, a Mount Pleasant resident and medical healthcare professional, spoke directly to the commission during the public input portion of the meeting and asked the commissioners to take another look at the process. 

“For a city who emphasizes small business, to stack the deck against small businesses is not right,” she said. 

Carey described the process as “tilted” and went on later to speak directly to Mayor Will Joseph who voted against Gillis’s proposed addition to the evening’s agenda, claiming he told Carey he would “take a second look.” 

“You shouldn’t do the right thing because you have an angry mob... you should do the right thing because it’s the right thing,” she told Joseph. “People are looking to Mount Pleasant for leadership.” 

Gillis’s proposal did not pass after a 4-2 vote. Mayor Joseph and Commissioners Kathleen Ling, Tony Kulick and Tolas were against the proposal. 

“We spent a better part of a year discussing this, battling it out and coming up with the process we have ... this was our best option,” Kulick said. 

Joseph was trying to serve medical marijuana patients by voting against the proposal and said he would like to see patients be able to get treatment timely and within the community. 

Central Michigan Life has more on the upcoming Feb. 13 lottery.

Update

On Feb. 12, Mount Pleasant Clerk’s office received copies of two Ex Parte Restraining Orders signed by Circuit Court Judge Paul H. Chamberlain, preventing the City from conducting the lottery originally scheduled at 1 p.m. Feb. 13.

The lottery would "randomly select applications for conditional authorization and to establish a waiting list for potential medical marijuana provisioning centers," according to Mount Pleasant's website.

The orders by Judge Chamberlain were based on motions filed by Green Peaks Industries and Deborah Cary on Feb. 11, according to a press release.

The public meeting remains scheduled, but cannot be conducted until further notice from the court, City Clerk Jeremy Howard said.

According to a press release, once the court hearing has concluded, Mount Pleasant will determine whether the lottery will occur as scheduled. The public meeting and lottery drawing may also be cancelled or rescheduled for a later date.

Street Light Public Hearing

At the Feb. 11 meeting, the commission also scheduled a public hearing during an upcoming city commission meeting Feb. 25. 

The hearing will allow community members to discuss the installation of pedestrian street lights on Pleasant Street, Clayton Street, Gaylord Street and May Street.

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