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Biz dispenses info, not pot

The Kind Tree’s owners include (from left) Matt Dankovich, Nick Longo, Billy Szabo and Zach Lorenzen. (click for larger version)
August 25, 2010 - Oxford's very first medical marijuana business officially opened its doors Aug. 14, but it's not dispensing any of the controversial, yet legal, medicine to patients.

"It's strictly a place for people to come and get information on medical marijuana," said Matt Dankovich, co-owner of The Kind Tree: An Organic Wellness Center, located at 109 N. Washington St.

Dankovich said the business is also providing the services of a massage therapist and plans to sell various nutritional supplements and vitamins.

The Kind Tree is currently open to the general public.

"Anyone can come into our shop right now and get information because we're not a dispensary," Dankovich said.

The business can't sell what's supposed to be its main product because on July 27 the village council placed a moratorium on "the issuance of permits and licenses for the sale or dispensation of medical marijuana" for a period of six months or until the effective date of a zoning ordinance amendment covering such uses.

"We understand why they did it," Dankovich explained. "We respect that they didn't want to just ban dispensaries as a whole. They want to take a look at what options there are."

The Kind Tree was originally scheduled to open on July 14. However, the village stopped that from happening because the appropriate paperwork hadn't been filed with the municipality and this type of business is not specifically addressed in the zoning ordinance.

Village planning commissioners are presently working on a zoning ordinance amendment concerning medical marijuana facilities. Members of the public are invited to give their input on the subject at the commission's 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7 meeting in the village council chambers (22 W. Burdick St.).

Dankovich believes medical marijuana facilities should be allowed in the village's Commercial Office (CO) zoning district because that's where other medical uses are currently permitted.

"That's one thing we're really pushing for just because it makes sense," he said. "It's a medical necessity. We think it would be a great fit to put it into that category."

The Kind Tree is currently located in a CO zoning district.

Dankovich supports the idea of keeping medical marijuana facilities out of the downtown.

Billy Szabo, another co-owner of The Kind Tree, noted the current limitation on the services their business can offer is only a temporary measure.

"We haven't given up on the idea of running a full-blown dispensary out of here," he said. "We still would like to offer that service."

But until the village puts something on the books regarding medical marijuana facilities, The Kind Tree can only serve as a "connecting point" for registered patients and caregivers, according to Dankovich.

"We're providing kind of a network for patients and caregivers," he said.

Right now, the Kind Tree has a total of seven registered caregivers on staff, which includes three of the four owners.

Under state law, registered medical marijuana patients may obtain their drug from those they specifically designate as their primary caregivers, who must also be registered with the state.

Each primary caregiver can assist up to five registered patients and is allowed to cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants per patient.

In return, patients are legally allowed to compensate their primary caregivers.

The Kind Tree is in the process of obtaining the services of a medical doctor, who will be available on-site by appointment only.

This doctor will be there to assist potential medical marijuana patients.

Under state law, in order to qualify as a registered user, a doctor must certify in writing that the patient has a debilitating medical condition and that medical marijuana may mitigate the symptoms or effects of that condition.

"We're trying to bring a doctor into our building, so they can just come here and meet," Dankovich said.

The Kind Tree is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12-4 p.m. on Saturday. The shop is closed on Sunday.

For more information call (248) 572-4608.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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