Future of Mason medical marijuana policy under review

Mason Medical Marijuana Regulation
By Justin Sienowski
The Mason Times

With Mason having undergone many changes over the years, Chairman of the Mason 150 Coordinating Committee and Mayor Pro Tem Marlon Brown finds it hard to speculate on the future – especially when it comes to the topic of marijuana.

“I honestly do not know whether or not marijuana use will be completely legalized in the foreseeable future,” Brown said. “So much is still unknown at this point.”

When Michigan lawmakers passed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act in 2008, making marijuana use legal for patients who had a prescription from a qualified doctor, it posed a conundrum to city governments around the state. With any use of marijuana still illegal at the federal level, cities had to tread carefully.

“Even though the state was allowing it we did not want to violate federal law because the federal government could have come and fought the city,” Brown said. “Federal laws, state laws and local laws were all at different levels of conflict.”

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Kean’s Store undergoes renovations after fire causes smoke damage

By Layne Alfred
The Mason Times

Renovations taking place behind the store

Kean’s Store, a Mason classic that has remained unchanged in the downtown square for 87 years, is being renovated after severe smoke damage that wiped out all of the merchandise.

In June, an electrical fire at Baja Grill, a restaurant attached to Kean’s, caused smoke to seep into the store and caused major damage. “Everything had to come out. They gutted it. It was a long process,” said Laurie Reed, the store manager of Kean’s.

Front of Kean’s Store

The store will be the same as before, including the building’s location and layout, but the floors, drywall, and ceiling tiles had to be replaced. “It’s going to be brand new, but everything will look the same,” said Teresa Wren, owner of the store.

Reed said that although it was a lengthy and unexpected process. “It’s really sharp! It will be better in the end.”

Currently, the store’s team is moving merchandise back into the store’s basement. This also includes sorting and marking all of the products. The process is happening quickly; the Hallmark section of the store has already been moved upstairs.

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Dennis O’Brien honored at The Mason Tree Commission

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Countless hours spent maintaining city parks and caring for the trees at Maple Grove Cemetery has earned Dennis O’Brien honoree status at The Mason Tree Commission.

O’Brien began his career as a laborer for the Department of Public Works in May 1978. In August 2005, more than 30 years later, he retired as an arborist and superintendent of cemetery, parks and forestry.

The planting of a sugar maple tree in honor of O’Brien is scheduled for noon on Arbor Day, Friday April 24 at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Mason and open to the public.
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Proposal 1, better for Mason’s future?

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Intermodal Policy Section Manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation Rob Balmes provided a brief overview of Proposal 1 at the March 16 City Council Meeting detailing main changes taxpayers will witness if the Proposal is passed.

“Proposal 1,” Balmes said, “will increase sales tax from 6 to 7 percent, while exempting fuel purchases, if approved by a vote to amend the Michigan Constitution May 5.

Sent to ballot by the House and the Senate, Proposal 1 would trigger a series of other laws designed to maximize new investments on road funding and minimize growing tax burdens for low-income residents, Balmes said.
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Chief weighs in on medical marijuana proposal

By Harrison Thrasher

The Mason Times

A medical marijuana ordinance was the primary feature for the planning commission’s joint meeting with city council on Feb. 10. Perhaps the most animated discussion was by a member of those actually responsible for enforcing the law: the police.

Police Chief John Stressman said he does not want the ordinance to pass.

Stressman cited dangers that could come as a result of passing the ordinance. His most pressing issue was where the supply would come from. As each caregiver would only be allowed 60 plants for five patients maximum, Stressman said the demand would be higher than a caregiver could supply within legal bounds.

Since police would have less authority in stopping marijuana, more illegal transactions could take place for those without a medical marijuana license. “We would possibly be inviting more activity from the cartel,” said Stressman. “The new ordinance would make it more difficult for our officers to identify illegal substances.”

Stressman also said that illegal sales could come from patients who obtain the marijuana legally. “There would still be no control over distribution by the caregiver,” Stressman said, meaning that patients would essentially be able to purchase as much as they pleased without limit.

The problem is that a patient could buy more than needed and then sell the rest under the table. A patient can have as much marijuana as deemed necessary and cannot be charged with possession as long as they have a medical marijuana card. The only exception would be if a patient was caught in an illegal transaction, similar to sales of any other prescription drug.

Stressman said the ordinance was, “egregious and simply poorly thought out.”

However, Stressman said he understands his role and that it is his responsibility to adhere to the actions of the board. He merely shared his feelings on the matter and realizes his duty to serve the community, stating, “If that’s what the community wants, that’s the way it is.”


Good Morning, Mason

By Shane Stockwell
The Mason Times

The city of Mason had one of its most successful turnouts at “Good Morning, Mason” October 30, said Kathy Morse, co-owner of Mason Today. This event was created for local businesses to network and help build the community bond between companies. The agenda included: Mason Area Chamber, Ingham County Public Safety, Mason Area Schools, and many other topics.

“Good Morning, Mason meets six times a year and provides an opportunity for local business owners and workers to get to meet one another and inform each other on new ideas or business opportunities,” said Doug Klein, executive director of Mason Area Chamber of Commerce.
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Giving back to those who give

By Emily Hummel
The Mason Times

Three Mason firefighters were recognized on Oct. 6 for rescuing a woman from a burning building.

Firefighters Jacob Meyers, Josh Woodland and Scott Davidson accept their plaques from Mayor Leon Clark.

Firefighters Jacob Meyers, Josh Woodland and Scott Davidson accept their plaques from Mayor Leon Clark.

At the City Council meeting, firefighters Scott Davidson, Jacob Meyers and Joshua Woodland were asked to accept plaques describing their heroic feat. Mayor Leon Clark presented each plaque to them. Along with the plaque, they were each given a day of the year that Mason would recognize.

“Even though the three of us were the ones that went into the building, it takes a whole team of people outside to make it happen. I think that It was humbling to get the recognition but really the entire fire department deserves recognition for doing what we did that night,” said firefighter Jacob Meyers.
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Mason Man still at-large in Animal Abuse Case

Benjamin Conley has been on the run for three weeks now and has a warrant out for his arrest.

Benjamin Conley has been on the run for three weeks now and has a warrant out for his arrest.

By Shane Stockwell
The Mason Times

Three weeks later and the search is still on for Benjamin Conley, who disappeared from the Ingham County courthouse minutes prior to his sentencing. Benjamin Conley was found guilty of animal torture, along with his brother Nicholas, in August. Nicholas Conley is currently serving his sentence in Ingham County jail, while the Lansing Police Department continues its search for brother Benjamin.

The brothers were being charged for the malicious torture of their mother’s pit bull. People saw the brothers hanging the pit bull from the roof of their house with a chain and noticed stab wounds.

Deputy Kyle Hanney was called to the house, 1717 Illinois Ave., Lansing, Michigan, on Sept. 6, 2013. Hanney saw the battered dog fighting for its life with a chain around its neck. Attached to the chain was a cinder block, restricting the dog from pulling its head up. The pit bull was later euthanized at Ingham County Animal Control.

This isn’t Benjamin Conley’s first run in with the law. He has also faced charges for unlawful imprisonment and assault and battery. Nicholas has a felony conviction as well.

Hanney says it’s not a matter of whether Benjamin Conley is found, but when. There is currently a bench warrant out for Conley’s arrest. Deputy Hanney stated that this is the most horrid case he has worked on.

Arrests are down, police approval is up in Mason

By Brian Bobal
Mason Times staff writer

photo (66)Over the past decade, arrests have gone down in Mason.

Arrests for driving under the influence are down from 41 to 17 in 2004 and 2013 respectively. Arrests involving drug offenses are down to four in 2013 compared to 30 in 2004. Finally, in 2013, arrests for retail fraud totalled 12. This is down 18 counts from 2004 when total arrests were 30.

Chief John Stressman attributes this to a few things.

“One is we have a retention issue and we’ve been short staffed. I don’t think we’ve been at full strength for the last two years,” said Stressman, who has been chief since 2004. “There is a lot of movement between police departments. Officers go from one place to the other looking for something better, or a better fit for them.” Continue reading

Prescription drug abuse: The new face of addiction

By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer

“It can happen to anyone. I’ve seen it a lot,” Aaron Emerson said. Unsuspecting teens are becoming addicted to prescription pills, and moving on to more dangerous drugs.

It’s in our medicine cabinets and prescribed by doctors. Prescription drugs, such as opioids, are available for helping people overcome pain and other medical issues, yet sometimes lead people down an addictive road.

Aaron Emerson, a 22-year-old Mason resident, was a sophomore in high school when he began experimenting with drugs. He had a bright future with friends by his side, and a loving family surrounding him.

Feeling the need to fill a hole in his life, Emerson said he smoked marijuana, took prescription painkillers, and eventually became addicted to heroin. Continue reading