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Marijuana dispensary, co-op takes aim at Groveland Township

January 26, 2011 - Groveland Twp.- A medical marijuana dispensary may soon be growing plants in the township.

Sean Robinson, a spokesperson for Caregivers of America, attended the township planning commission meeting on Tuesday night to explore the possiblity of establishing a co-op for growing medical marijuana. Township Supervisor Bob DePalma said he was contacted earlier this month by Caregivers of America, who expressed interest in establishing their business in the community.

On Nov. 4, 2008, Michigan voters approved by 63 percent the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. The law went into effect Dec. 4, 2008.

According to the state regulation, patients may possess up to two and one-half (2.5) ounces of usable marijuana and 12 marijuana plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility. The 12 plants may be kept by the patient only if he or she has not specified a primary caregiver to cultivate the marijuana for him or her. Groveland Township voters passed the law 1,947 to 1,047 with 65 percent of the vote.

Robinson did not give details of when the formal proposal for the co-op would be presented to the township. He did, however, discuss some of the features regarding the business.

"We are a dispensary that will include growing facilities for marijuana, medical doctors, nurses and security," said Robinson. "Right now we are opening a 50,000 square foot facility in Walled Lake. These facilities are open across Michigan. In other communities there has been a problem with the storefront of the building and a variety of ordinances."

"We offer a place where they can grow marijuana in a secure area. There is another face to medical marijuana—this is for ill people."

The Atlas Township Board and the Ortonville Village Council passed moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries last year. Groveland and Brandon townships did not.

DePalma, who visited the new Walled Lake facility on Wednesday said the Caregivers of America have a site in mind for the dispensary; however, the location within the township was not disclosed.

"There's a great deal to be decided rather than making this issue a political football," he said. "I do not want to see a 'carte blanche' refusal because I don't want the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) down our throats. I don't think it's the township's position to strike the law. It's legal in the state—it's now a zoning issue. The issue is now under what conditions do we allow medical marijuana despensaries." John Iacoangeli, township planner, recommended the township discuss the medical marijuana dispensary issue during the March meeting during a work session. A public hearing on the medical marijuana ordinance could come as early as May.

"You have to educate yourself on the law. The business will have to fit into your zoning," he told the commission. "Start with an open mind and remember write the ordinance for all (medical marijuana) facilities, not just Caregivers of America."

Ken Quisenberry, former Ortonville Council President, owner of Capital Investigations Inc., and retired Oakland County Sheriff Department lieutenant, also attended Tuesday's meeting.

"I have one interest only," said Quisenberry, who will work security for Caregivers. "Compliance with the law. It (the law) is what it is. I've seen other communities that have kicked the (medical marijuana) can down the road—like Ortonville."

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