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Public hearing set for Dec. 17 on medical pot centers

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The City Council will hold a public hearing next month over a proposed ordinance to regulate where medical marijuana centers can locate within the city.

Councilman James Tate, who spearheaded the legislation, introduced the zoning plan at Tuesday’s formal session, the final meeting before the council’s winter recess.

The public hearing will take place at 1 p.m. Dec. 17. The council could then schedule a special session to vote on the law before the end of the year.

Last week, a council subcommittee sent the zoning ordinance for marijuana centers to the full panel after it was amended based on recommendations from the City Planning Commission.

The law would prohibit the centers from locating within 1,000 feet of churches, schools or play fields as well as controlled uses including billiard halls, arcades and liquor stores. In addition, federal laws prohibit the facilities from locating within 1,000 feet of zones deemed drug free.

The council approved a companion ordinance last month that sets strict licensing requirements for the so-called pot shops. The ordinance limits hours, imposes inspections and ban drive-thru windows.

That measure was approved by a 6-1 vote over the dramatic protest of the council’s second highest ranking member, Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr. Cushingberry previously argued in favor of drive-thru services and 24-hour operations.

The Medical Marihuana Caregiver Centers proposal establishes rules for the facilities that, up until now, have operated without any formal restrictions.

The regulations won’t set a cap on the number of pot shops permitted in Detroit, but it won’t allow for grandfathering of existing and future dispensaries operating in the city.

The licensing ordinance won’t be published until the zoning requirements are also approved.