Re-zoning For Medical Marijuana?

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

In Meridian Township, it's legal to have a medical marijuana dispensary in commercial spaces only.

The former Kinder Care building on Okemos Road has been vacant for more than a year and now the new owner has applied for re-zoning --- to change it from residential to professional space.

"The issue is the kind of activity that the zoning will allow," said Stephen Schultz.

Schultz is an attorney at Fahey, Schultz, Burzych, Rhodes which is next door to the old daycare building. He's concerned that it will turn into a medical marijuana facility.

"We noticed a sign that was stuck behind some bushes on the property that's no longer there. [It said] "compassionate care clinic" and it had little marijuana leaves on it," said Schultz.

The planning and development office gave us a copy of the rezoning application, which is a public file, and the part that asks why the property should be rezoned or the intent of the building was left blank.

"The applicant already runs an alternative care clinic listed on Michigan caregiver's web site for prescribing medical marijuana for those who have the need," said Schultz.

The applicant is Dr. Shannon Wiggins. A sign with Wiggin's name is outside the clinic on Michigan Avenue in Lansing. Wiggins would not verify if medical marijuana would be dispense of prescribed from her Okemos building. But the fact that she already owns one clinic is enough for the Okemos School District. In a statement, interim superintendent Catherine Ash said, "It concerns me that this rezoning, if approved, could result in the unintended outcome of establishing a medical marijuana facility in close proximity to school property."

Chippewa Middle School is right across the street.

"We've had students that after school hang out behind the building," said Schultz.

The township's view is that just because Dr. Wiggins has one medical marijuana clinic doesn't necessarily mean that she'll have another. But the bottom line for Schultz is that until the law is clarified, there shouldn't be any discussion or dispensing of medical marijuana.

"The township needs to adopt a moratorium and explore all the intricacies of these types of uses and where they should be located," said Schultz.

A public hearing is set for 7pm at the Meridian Township Municipal building on Marsh Road. In two weeks, the planning commission will give its recommendation on whether to re-zone the property on Okemos Road or not.

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