Medical marijuana dispensary seeks to open in Brown City
The group appeared before the council at the behest of long-time Brown City-area residents Tom and Brenda Owens and their daughter Michell Tincknell of Frankenmuth.
The Owens family was represented by attorney Bernard A. Jocuns, of Lapeer, who began his presentation by reminding council that “63 percent of Michigan voters approved the use of medical marijuana in the 2008 election.”
Jocuns updated council members on the latest state legislation, which according to Jocuns, clarified many ambiguities of the original voter-initiated law.
Jocuns suggested the idea of passing what he called an “opt-in” city ordinance permitting, regulating, and limiting the number of a marijuana dispensaries within the city limits.
“We need a local ordinance in place before the state will consider granting a license,” said Jocuns.
Jocuns provided council members with four packets of information on the subject of medical marijuana totaling more than 50 pages.
One packet was a copy of Public Act 281 of 2016, which sets forth current Michigan law dealing with the produc- tion, transportation, sale, and use of medical marijuana.
Another packet was a compilation of commonly asked questions about the issue along with answers provided by Jocuns.
A third packet was a copy of an ordinance adopted by Pinconning Township in January “authorizing and permitting commercial medical marihuana facilities;” an ordinance that Jocuns held up as a model.
The ordinance uses the spelling of the word marijuana with the letter “h” instead of the commonly used letter “j,” because marihuana is so spelled in most all governmental documents.
Jocuns also provided a packet entitled Medical Marihuana Act, Statistical Report with Program Information and Financial Data for Fiscal Year 2016.
The report was published on Dec. 22, 2016 by the Bureau of Professional Licensing of the Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in Lansing.
The LARA report states that in fiscal 2016 there were 944 qualified, card-holding, medical marijuana patients in Sanilac County, along with 170 approved caregivers.
The report says that, statewide, 80 percent of qualified, card-holding patients are using marijuana to treat severe and chronic pain, with 19 percent using the drug to treat severe and persistent muscle spasms.
A “caregiver” is a state approved and state regulated grower who provides marijuana for medical purposes to a qualified, card-holding, patient.
A caregiver is limited by LARA regulations to growing 12 plants per patient, with a limit of no more than five patients.
In a later phone interview with The Brown City Banner, Jocuns described Tom Owens as just such a caregiver, whose experience makes him an ideal candidate to operate a marijuana dispensary (referred to in the new laws as “provision centers,”), saying, “Mr. Owens is a productive member of society with a long family history in the Brown City community.”
Owens’ daughter, Michell, a graduate of Brown City High School and a registered nurse, told the council that she intends to “spend a lot of time” at the proposed provision center helping her parents. “In my profession, I have seen the benefit of the oils and the edibles for suffering patients.”
Michell told The Banner after the meeting, “I grew up in Brown City. I take pride in that. We want to help the people as much as possible. My dad is a grower. He helps local patients so they don’t have to drive so far. He helps cancer patients with oils and edibles.
“Never in a million years did I think my parents would get into this. But then Dad had back surgery and a heart attack. He had problems walking. He’s against pills and addictive narcotics. After doing a lot of research, he got a medical marijuana card. The results were wonderful.
“Dad became a caregiver to help others. Now, he wants a license to grow 500 plants on his farm. There would be no growing on the provision center property. We are not into this to make a big business. We just want local people to have easier access to the medicine they need. We are looking for support from the townspeople,” she said.
City records indicate the property the Owens intend to use is a 100 by 243-foot lot (0.69 acres), with a small vacant building on it.
The premises, owned by Gary and Pam Sutton, is just south of the couple’s barber/gun shop on the east side of Maple Valley Road, south of M-90. The building, which hasn’t been used for five years, is for sale by owner.
After hearing comments and concerns pro and con, the city council tabled the issue until its March 27 meeting, citing the desire of members to further educate themselves on the subject, and to have a matter of this importance reviewed by the entire council — council member Ross McIvor was absent.
Jocuns later told The Brown City Banner, “This should not be a controversial issue. There are no more stereotypes of marijuana being a ‘gate-way’ drug. At the end of the day, marijuana in medical form should be legal and regulated. Several patients in Sanilac County do not have convenient access to it.
“There can be economic benefits to the city, as well,” said Jocuns, “from receiving a $5,000 annual permit fee to increased business for area stores and restaurants.”
Jocuns went on to say, “If the council wants to hear the opinions of city residents, that would be great. This issue is not going away. There is a mechanism under the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act for a vote of the residents on the matter. It wouldn’t take many signatures to put it on the ballot.”
The next regular meeting of the Brown City Council is March 27 at 7 p.m.
Did you know about medical marijuana?
• Number of medical marijuana patients in Sanilac County: 944
• Number of medical marijuana caregivers in Sanilac County: 170
• 80 percent of medical marijuana is used to treat severe and chronic pain
• 19 percent of medical marijuana is used to treat severe and persistent muscle spasms
• Applications for medical marijuana registry identification cards statewide: 148,908
• Number of registry identification cards revoked statewide: One
• Number of physicians providing written certifications for qualifying patients: 1,758
• Number of initial applications denied statewide: 18,857
• Number of renewal applications denied statewide: 1,580
• Average amount of time from receipt to approval or denial to process initial and/or renewal applications: 12 days
• The amount collected from medical marijuana program application and renewal fees: $9,841,058
• The costs of administering the medical marijuana program under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act: $5,293,599
Note: All statistics are for fiscal year 2016
Source: Michigan Bureau of Professional Licensing