Medical pot ordinance hits a snag



By Charles Sercombe
For a moment, it looked like Hamtramck was on its way to begin the first step in allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to operate here.
But seemingly out of nowhere, the city council was faced with impassioned opposition to the proposal at Tuesday’s council meeting.
An overflow of mostly Bengali- and Yemeni-Americans spoke out against it. Several speakers repeated basically the same message: Allowing dispensaries to operate here will mean kids will gain increased access to marijuana, the city is too small, it will attract crime, marijuana – legal or not – is not good for people and those who need it can go to any nearby Detroit dispensary.
Kamal Rahman said the city needs to first conduct an “impact study” on allowing dispensaries.
He added that without a doubt, access to medical marijuana will eventually trickle down to younger people.
“This is no benefit to the youth,” he said.
Abraham Aiyash, who recently ran unsuccessfully for state senator for the district that represents Hamtramck, said that even though he is in favor of medical marijuana, the council has to listen to the community.
He said even though dispensaries will bring in added tax revenue for the city, “the economic benefits do not outweigh community concern.”
Making dispensaries legal here has followed a rocky road ever since Michigan voters approved the use and sale of medical marijuana in 2008.
At first city officials seemed gung-ho on it, but as Republican state legislators increasingly looked for ways to limit it – and even abolish it – they backed off on the matter.
It has been several years since anyone in the administration even worked on the issue.
That was until this past year when councilmembers decided it was time to act on it. State officials have finally come up with regulations that they can live with – although many say it is much too strict and eliminates any “mom and pop” shop from ever opening up.
Hamtramck’s city attorneys have finally produced a proposed ordinance regulating the licensing of would-be operators and also created a zoning plan where dispensaries and grow facilities can set up.
But because of Tuesday’s backlash, Councilmember Andrea Karpinski proposed to postpone the issue until November.
Councilmember Anam Miah agreed, but only if the city holds a town meeting on the subject.
Miah, who supports dispensaries, said there is too much “bad information” out in the community, and people need to be educated on the matter.
“There is a large amount of misunderstanding,” Miah said.
He added: “Everyone who spoke, you have truly been misinformed.”
All but Councilmembers Saad Almasmari and Fadel Al-Marsoumi agreed to that resolution.
Both wanted to vote on the matter then and there. Almasmari said he is against it.
Al-Marsoumi told The Review he is against dispensaries being located here.
“I’ve always been against it,” he said.
He said dispensaries attract undesirable people and that the city is too small. Plus, he said, it will stretch the city’s police force.
“Based on what I see in Detroit, we don’t need this,” he said.
The city has hosted several public meetings, including most recently a town hall meeting at the public library. Hardly anyone attended that meeting, and there might have been one or two people who said they were against dispensaries.
What happened in the meantime?
It appears word-of-mouth finally activated community members.
Community activist Bill Meyer, who said his wife is a medical marijuana user and that he has smoked marijuana in the past, said the city has to pay attention to the “majority” of the city.
Back in 2008 when legalizing medical marijuana was a state ballot issue there was no public comment locally about the issue. Hamtramck voters voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana by a whopping two-to-one majority.
That was the year President Obama was elected to office, and Hamtramck voters came out in droves. Some 5,778 voters participated in that election. The medical marijuana ordinance passed 2,968 to 1,814.
Carrie Beth Lasley, a government watchdog, said it doesn’t make economic sense for the city to get involved.
There have also been threats of a political backlash. On Councilmember Ian Perrotta’s Facebook page, Abdulmalik Kassim, the president of the Yemeni American Leadership Association, warned:
“The City Council Members decision today on the permission of selling marijuana in our city will determine our future support for the council members on their election campaigns. We are absolutely against the sale of marijuana in our city. For those who wish to buy marijuana for medical purposes, Detroit is not so far away.”
Over at Mayor Karen Majewski’s Facebook page, Abu Zane went a bit further, saying:
“We Bangladesh and Yemeni Community promise you that you will never be mayor again in Hamtramck. I promise if it take everything in our power to do so you will see. You forget we have the majority, we put (you) in that seat and we will get you out of it that I can guarantee. You can choose to keep ignoring our message but I know you see it and I promise you enjoy your seat while you still on it won’t be for long.”
Majewski said she is in favor of dispensaries here. She responded to Zane saying this:
“I serve the entire Hamtramck community, not one constituency, and I base my decisions not on who shouts the loudest or threatens most visibly, but on sound research and a view of the city that looks to our future potential and the entirety of our residents. Bluster and intimidation doesn’t scare me.”
A town hall meeting on the subject will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at the Public Library. Details of the meeting are still being worked out.

Oct. 12, 2018

15 Responses to Medical pot ordinance hits a snag

  1. Gary Krantz

    October 12, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    I would encourage those who attended the City Council meeting to voice their opinions at the Town Hall meeting slated for October 30th.

    Two lobbying firm representatives appeared at the City Council meeting and one delivered a public commentary period statement while the second spoke to Anam Miah following the close of that meeting.

    My feeling is that outside forces are influencing the prospective decision to approve City Council action promoting the introduction of dispensaries within city limits.

    Expect that those City Council members who support these proposed dispensaries to get support in a reciprocal fashion in the next election from those who will benefit from the City Council approval that is expected.

  2. Roadman

    October 13, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Political backlash fron Yemeni and Bangladeshi communities? Heh.

    Karen Majewski was returned as Mayor in 2017 with a 61% mandate. No need to cave in to the desires of disorganized local ethnic communities that do not vote for the most part.

    Ian Perrotta proved that criticism of these communities can actually help City Council candidates at the ballot box.

    Kamal Rahman criticized Mohamed Hassan after Hassan beat him in the 2017 mayoral primary and now Rahman is upset over the conduct of the alternative candidate who won in the November 2017 general election and now promotes the dispensaries.

  3. Concerned

    October 13, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    “I’m not against medical marijuana,” Fouts said. “That’s not the point. But I think there has been what I call a rush to judgment to try and get things going. And I think the marijuana business – the millions and billions of dollars that can be made – is driving this. And city officials want to get a share of the tax dollars it might bring with new businesses, dispensaries, etc.”

    Fouts said he is relying on advice of others at city hall, including his city attorney, that there could be liability questions.

    The mayor said the city building inspections department, which would approve dispensary locations and sizes, among other issues, has told him “we aren’t ready to start making those kinds of decisions yet.”

    “I’ve had some people come up to me and say how they are from other cities but want to come to Warren because it’s friendly,” Fouts said. “Well, that’s nice but I don’t want to become known as the Las Vegas for marijuana growing and sales. I think we have more to offer than that.”

  4. Concerned

    October 13, 2018 at 6:00 pm

  5. guest

    October 14, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Looks like our over-priced legal team are not doing their job. The city is liable for authorizing activities that violates federal law.

  6. Fatema Hossain

    October 14, 2018 at 4:26 pm


    The bottom line is that Majewski, Miah, and Perrotta do not give a hoot about the negative impact dispensaries will have on Hamtramck citizens – they promote this as they anticipate a financial windfall that will come to the City of Hamtramck.


    One of the reasons that James Allen was promoted by Majewski over John Clark as City Attorney was Allen’s expertise in the medical marijuana law.

    It is well known that federal law continues to forbid the possession, sale and use of marijuana – and I am sure Allen is aware of applicable federal law – the City of Hamtramck is climbing up a slippery slope in by allowing dispensaries in the city as envisioned by Majewski and her cohorts.

    The imams and other civic leaders who appeared in City Hall last Tuesday should be congratulated for voicing legitimate concerns about unwise action Majewski is proposing. We hope to see them at the upcoming town hall meeting.

  7. John Dory

    October 14, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    It is a point well taken that these proposed dispensaries violate federal law and the City of Hamtramck municipal government is complicit by licensing and creating zones for the sale of this product:

    If the feds want to crack down on the city, passing these ordinances will give them the justification they may be looking for.

  8. Mohammed Allam

    October 15, 2018 at 10:15 am

    It would be interesting to see if Allen Brothers law firm ,who wrote this ordinance, will be willing to sign an agreement with the city to defend (For Free) any liabilities or issues arising from this ordinance.

  9. huh?

    October 16, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Fatema, Allen Brothers was not promoted by the mayor. The resolution to hire them was introduced by Miah. As a reward for all the free work he was doing to help get rid of the former city manager. All Brothers were hired because of Miah. Saad, Musa and Fadel.

    Also the Federal government is not coming into Hamtramck, to sue the city if medical pot. They haven’t sue or went after any other city in the state.

    The misinformation being spread by a largely clueless group is sad. In November the legalization of weed in Michigan is going to pass easily. No point of Hamtramck not making extra tax dollars considering every other city will.

    Funny part all these council people against this ordinance will end up voting for it once Miah tells them to.

  10. Concerned

    October 16, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Whatever extra tax dollars gained will be wiped out by related lawsuits

    Can Allen brothers guarantee to represent the city FREE OF CHARGE in any lawsuits resulting from this ordinance? I doubt that, it will be a very lucrative income stream for them to be paid off by the city’s taxpayers.

  11. Gary Krantz

    October 16, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    Expect a BIG turnout of anti-dispensary activists for the upcoming town hall meeting.

    This is a huge issue for both sides.

  12. Roadman

    October 17, 2018 at 12:42 am

    Allen Brothers WAS promoted by the Mayor with the medical marijuana dispensary legal expertise one of the publicly disclosed reasons stated by Majewski for the hiring per a March 23, 2018 article in the Review:

  13. Fatema Hossain

    October 20, 2018 at 11:17 am

    City leaders expect medical marijuana dispensaries to be a “cash cow” and that Hamtramck will reap a monetary windfall from these facilities, but the prospect of lawsuits and increased crime are not worth the potential benefits from approving these businesses.

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