Future of dispensaries is doubtful

Mayor Karen Majewski and Councilmember Anam Miah listen to speakers at Tuesday’s town hall meeting on whether the city should allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate here.



By Charles Sercombe
The chances of Hamtramck allowing medical marijuana dispensaries looks pretty iffy at this point.
According to sources, a majority of city councilmembers may back off from adopting a set of ordinances that would regulate dispensaries and grow facilities.
That’s because of the massive turnout at a town hall meeting held Tuesday night at the public library. About 120 people showed and most objected to allowing such facilities to locate here.
Most of those in attendance were from the Yemeni and Bengali communities.
Many said they were against allowing the sale of medical marijuana because they feared it would get into the hands of children and that the facilities would invite crime.
The first hour of the town hall meeting was taken up by speakers arranged by the city administration.
Former Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed gave an impassioned speech on why allowing dispensaries to open will benefit the city.
He said that like it or not, medical marijuana will be sold in the state, and now is the time for cities to adopt their own regulations. Otherwise, he said, the “wave” of medical marijuana will wash over the city.
“It’s about regulating,” El-Sayed said.
City Attorney Harry Kalogerakas echoed that sentiment for the need to adopt regulations.
“If we don’t do it ourselves, we run the threat of someone coming in and creating something unacceptable to the community,” he said.
If the administration was hoping to dispel fears and clear up misinformation, it didn’t seem to make an impression on those attending.
Instead, after listening to the city’s speakers, the crowd grew impatient. At one point several people yelled out for an end to the speakers so they could speak.
Those attending also objected to being limited to commenting no longer than three minutes.
During all of it Mayor Karen Majewski, who has advocated for allowing dispensaries, looked defeated.

One of only a couple of people who spoke in favor of dispensaries was Councilmember Ian Perrotta. He rattled a number of those attending by saying fellow Councilmember Saad Almasmari was “lying” when he said earlier that the ordinances under consideration would allow an unlimited number of dispensaries to open.
Almasmari said the ordinances would allow medical marijuana to swamp the city.
“Are we planning on making Hamtramck a green city?” he said.
While there is no limit mentioned in the proposed ordinances, the zoning regulations would severely restrict where they could operate.
Nayeem Choudhury disputed one of the key arguments in favor of the dispensaries. Backers of the ordinances said the businesses would bring in needed tax revenue.
Choudhury said that the businesses would not bring in a significant amount of money.
Instead, he said, the businesses would act as a bad influence on children walking past dispensaries.
Another speaker said allowing dispensaries would “destroy” the community.
Former school boardmember Nasr Saleh Hussain said the city’s pursuit of drafting the ordinances was a “waste of money.”
He said the city should wait and see what happens in other cities that allow dispensaries.
“Don’t make Hamtramck a testing ground,” Hussain said.
City officials have been grappling with the issue of dispensaries ever since voters approved the use of medical marijuana 10 years ago. It wasn’t until recently that city officials pushed the issue to the forefront.
Until Tuesday’s meeting Councilmembers Perrotta, Anam Miah and Andrea Karpinski appeared to be in favor of dispensaries. It was expected that Mayor Majewski would break the council’s tie vote.
Now, according to sources, the mayor wants to shelve the issue.
Majewski could not be reached for comment.
Councilmember Miah said he expected more people in favor of dispensaries to come out.
“I was surprised by that,” he said.

Nov. 2, 2018

7 Responses to Future of dispensaries is doubtful

  1. Gary Krantz

    November 2, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Shelving the issue is a prudent course of action.

    There is no formal study that concludes that the opening of dispensaries will benefit the City of Hamtramck in any financial sense and there are those who speculate that the city attorney fees that shall be generated by such a local ordinance will offset any incidental revenues that the city may receive from licensees.

    A lobbyist appeared to deliver pro-dispensary public commentary at the library town hall meeting – who paid her lobbying firm to appear?

    Who stands to make money off these dispensaries that are expected to open in Hamtramck if the ordinance passes? Are these the primary supporters driving the passage of this proposed medical marijuana dispensary ordinance that City Council is expected to vote upon?

  2. Fatema Hossain

    November 3, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    A number of religious leaders, including Imam Zindani and and Imam Islam came to speak at the town hall meeting and were among dozens of speakers that argued forcefully against the licensing of these facilities within Hamtramck.

    The avowed purpose of this town hall meeting at the library was to “educate the public” to support passage of a local zoning ordinance permitting these facilities withing city boundaries – instead Mayor Majewski and other members of City Council were educated as to why the proposed ordinance should NOT be passed.

    Expect a similar public turnout when this issue comes for a City Council vote.

  3. John Dory

    November 3, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    Matthew Abel, Executive Director of Michigan NORML, also had appeared as a guest speaker to advocate for passage of the local medical marijuana ordinance.

    Abel has appeared to speak in the past at the Ann Arbor event “Hash Bash”.

    Pro-marijuana advocates across the Metro Detroit area are closely monitoring the progress of City Council on this issue and several lobbying firm personnel have also attended City Council meetings and have been interacting with City Council members.

  4. John Dory

    November 3, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    The blog “Weedtronic” – whose motto is “Growing Higher Every Day” – on October 31st carried an article covering the recent Town Hall meeting.

    They also uploaded the video of the full three-hour meeting:


    The video has also been uploaded to YouTube.

  5. James Colton

    November 3, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    If this ordinance passes, the state Law allowing at-home cultivation by individuals with state-issued medical marijuana cards in residential neighborhoods will be in effect.


  6. John Dory

    November 4, 2018 at 11:38 am

    James Colton:

    That is an excellent point.

    Warren Mayor James Fouts’ primary beef has been with the at-home cultivation provisions of state law. This is something that no one to my knowledge has emphasized in Hamtramck to any great detail.

    The diversion of law enforcement resources to inspect and enforce not only retail licensees but also at-home cultivation by such card holders would be a serious drain on local law enforcement personnel.

  7. Frank James English

    November 7, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    This is a JOKE and prejudiced action. Will never forget buying marijuana under the counter from a Begali smoke shop that used to be next to the Attic Bar twenty years ago. Not allowing a portion of this commnity access to medical marijuana is INHUMANE and just seems a way to push others out of the community. As a medical marijuana card holder nine years i am also allowed to grow but have not because of the intolerance and hypocrisy here in Hamtramck. I drive to various locations in Detroit and spend money that i should be saving.. Now that recreational marijuana is passed what kind of a silly one hour meeting on marijuana is the city going to have? LOL And there are SO MANY HYPOCRITS

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