What a long, strange trip it's been.
After the delays, the yellow tags and the newspaper articles the city of Flint has finally certified three medical marijuana dispensaries and sanctioned their operation.
Three licenses were issued by city officials. In a press conference held Friday, May 15 owners Kim and Bob Johnson of The Sweet Leaf and Rachelle Arnott of the Green Bean put their city licenses on display for cameras and the curious. Also receiving a license, but unable to participate in the press conference, was the organization called Green Culture.
Flint's action to license distribution centers for medical marijuana comes after the House of Representatives launched another impotent round of debates in May on a statewide law allowing the dispensaries, called Provisioning Centers.
The three locations and management teams are all compliant with Flint's Provisioning Center 0rdinance, passed by council. They have been inspected, had the backgrounds of their owners checked out and are in an approved business zone.
Similarly, employees of these Centers had to undergo background checks and submit application forms. Each qualifying employee was issued a license and is required to display it in the center it was issued to.
"Honestly this is really surreal I still have to pinch myself," said Rachelle Arnott during an interview televised on Fox 66 TV.
More Provisioning Centers will be approved to operate in Flint. Some management teams are struggling with the paperwork process, and some employees of approved Centers were not issued licenses due to administrative delays.
The application process comes with a $5,000 price tag and zoning requirements restrict locations of Provisioning Centers from being too close to a school, park or other Center. Special land use permits are required for Centers.
The issuance of licenses comes after a city-wide crackdown on Centers that were open while paperwork was still in process. 14 different Centers were visited by City officials in the past two months; some were warned to restrict their business, others received yellow tags on their front doors denoting a violation of code or failure to obtain various permits from the city.
Those close to the process tell of a long, tortured paperwork approval procedure that involved city clerks, police and the legal department. "The first time you do anything, it's tough to figure out," Kim Johnson said. "It'll be easier for the next group."
Arno and the Johnsons had praise for the city despite the confusion. "At the press conference we thanked both Sherry Pierce and Jessie Buchanan specifically," Bob Johnson added. "They are the ones that really made this happen."
Not making it happen was Rep. Klint Kesto, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Kesto called for two weeks of testimony on a pair of bills that would make Provisioning Centers an option for every community in Michigan but has yet to order a vote on them. These bills were passed unanimously in the same House Judiciary Committee last year, when it was chaired by now-Speaker of the House, Rep. Kevin Cotter.
Kesto's comments during that two weeks of testimony lead many to speculate that Flint's city-based dispensary program may be the only method available to license these resource centers for quite some time.
A photo gallery of pictures taken during the press conference is available online HERE.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles