Rezoning Application Prompts Marijuana Zoning Debate

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

Matthew Drake's Okemos law firm sits next to a building that makes him and his partners uneasy.

"My partners and I noticed large signs being placed on the side of the building featuring large marijuana leaves," he said.

The owner of that building--formerly a Kinder Care Center--is Dr. Shannon Wiggins. She's asking Meridian Township to rezone it from residential to professional office.

"What we're planning is to have a general medicine family practice in this facility," she said.

Over in lansing -- her sign hangs in front of a Michigan Avenue medical marijuana clinic. It's enough to prompt some questions about what she intends for her Okemos building.

"Now would be a great time for the planning commission to table the current request and consider a moratorium," said Drake.

Wiggins says she's never grown or dispensed marijuana in her life and doesn't plan on it.

"Just to allay everyone's fears there's not going to be any growing of or distribution of marijuana at this site. It is purely intended for medical use. Period," she said to the planning commission Monday night.

The planning commission says there can only be medical marijuana dispensaries in commercial-zoned property. But some worry should Dr. Wiggins, down the line, decide to grow or dispense marijuana, that'd be all too easy to get around.

"I could say I'm a caregiver, I'm just growing for my patients," said Drake. "They don't pay me, I just recoup my expenses and therefore this isn't a commercial activity. I can be located in a neighborhood, by a school, by a church."

Which this property is. It's across the street from a middle school and near a church.

The planning commission is scheduled to vote on a recommendation for the Township Board November 22.

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