Mayor Brian Marl and Saline City Council will strike a working group to study the medical marijuana issue.
In January, a group led by pharmacists from Dearborn and Detroit pitched the idea for a medical marijuana dispensary for the City of Saline.
The city does not currently allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. During discussions about whether the city should allow recreational marijuana dispensaries, city leaders heard from several residents with health issues who said they’re inconvenienced by having to drive to Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor to buy marijuana prescribed to them by doctors.
While council seems firmly opposed to recreational marijuana dispensaries, it appears to be softening its stance against medical dispensaries.
At the Feb. 11 city council meeting, Mayor Brian Marl said “there are those in the city with chronic conditions who need the products and services” available at medical marijuana dispensaries.
“Society is evolving on these issues. We should control and regulate (marijuana dispensaries),” Marl said. “We do owe it to our citizens to be thoughtful and strategic and to choose the best approach.”
Marl said he would recommend a working group to “more thoughtfully consider” the issues relating to dispensaries. He said a working group could provide council with ordinances and documents it can review if council is interested in moving forward on medical marijuana dispensaries.
Mayor ProTem Linda TerHaar agreed medical dispensaries need to be carefully controlled and regulated.
“Despite the fact the (medical marijuana) ballot proposal passed many years ago, the state structure was just recently developed. So it’s not clear how this will play out,” TerHaar said. “I agree with the proposal to form a group to study this. We are a city with 9,000 people, without a huge legal budget. We should back and see what other communities are doing.”
Councillor Janet Dillon asked if there was going to be a need for medical marijuana dispensaries once recreation dispensaries come on line – although, per council ordinance – they won’t be coming on line in Saline.
Councillor Christen Mitchell said she was prepared to look a medical marijuana dispensaries.
“I don’t think this issue is as hard as we make it out to be. We have a deep bench and we are able to look at things and bring them about in a way that benefits the community. People who are ill need to be able to access this without having to drive to Ann Arbor,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell volunteered to serve on the work group.
Councillor Dean Girbach said the city needed to take its time and do it right. He said he questioned all the promises of local government revenue that would be generated commercial recreational marijuana facilities. Marl agreed and emphasized that his interest was about the health and welfare of city residents.
“If we do decide to move forward with medical marijuana dispensaries, we should be doing it not to generate revenue but to meet the medical and health care needs of our residents,” Marl said.