By Kristen Alberti
Listen Up, Lansing
With the possible decriminalization of marijuana looming in East Lansing, Lansing dispensaries and resource centers don’t seem to be too troubled by the possibility of more competition popping up in East Lansing.
On May 5, East Lansing voters will decide whether to decriminalize marijuana in the community, following a similar move by Lansing in fall of 2013.
Tiffany Savoie, manager of Pure Options located on South Pennsylvania Avenue, would like to see more dispensaries open in hopes that they follow laws correctly, unlike some that are open now. Pure Options is a provisioning center that unites caregivers and medical marijuana patients, and also provides medicine for those patients.
“I think that it would be a good thing if the proposal passed because it would set into place rules and regulations that a lot of dispensaries in the area aren’t abiding to,” said Savoie. “Our dispensary already is, so we’re gonna be fine, but I think a lot of places will get shut down and then better businesses will have to come up. I think it would be a good thing for the community.”
Savoie said most of her clients are from the greater Lansing area, including Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Benton Harbor. With only a few cities allowing dispensaries in Michigan, some patients have to travel a long way to get their medication. However, if this amendment passes, Savoie is doubtful that dispensaries in East Lansing will pop up.
“Not in the city of East Lansing, but in the Lansing area, yes,” said Savoie. “East Lansing is a little bit more conservative.”
Tim, a Michigan State University student who has a medical marijuana card, agrees that the passing of the East Lansing marijuana proposal will not affect Lansing dispensaries.
As a resident of East Lansing while he attends school, Tim said he gets his marijuana from three unique Lansing dispensaries out of the six locations he’s gone to throughout Michigan since he’s closer to them.
Tim said he doesn’t think any more dispensaries will open if the new proposal is passed because there has already been a steady increase of them in the area since the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program has been around. However, if more dispensaries were to open, Tim said he would definitely give them a shot.
“Every dispensary that opens certainly has a really good first time patient deal,” said Tim, “so it’s more advantageous for me to kind of go around and see what every place has to offer.”
According to cityofeastlansing.com, the ballot question reads, “Shall Chapter 6 of the Charter of the City of East Lansing be amended to add a new Section 6.12, entitled ‘Marijuana’, to state that: ‘Nothing in the Code of Ordinances shall apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, on private property, or transportation of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years’?”
“The current East Lansing ordinances prohibit the use or possession of marijuana,” said East Lansing city attorney Thomas Yeadon. “The new proposal would exclude that for anything under one ounce of marijuana.”
“The important thing to note is that it doesn’t affect the general laws of the state, so it’s still a crime under state and federal laws,” said Yeadon. “If it passes, nothing would stop an East Lansing police officer, a state police officer, or the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department from enforcing state laws.”
Yeadon said if passed, it wouldn’t legalize marijuana, it would just prevent the city from prosecuting certain violations of use or possession. His fear for the passing of the new law is that it could get kids into trouble unwittingly because it might give them the belief that the use and possession of marijuana is actually legal.
“From my understanding, there was a charter change voted in a few years ago in Lansing that was similar to ours, but I haven’t looked at,” said Yeadon.
Back in the fall of 2013, Lansing voters passed a similar amendment stating that, “nothing in the Code of Ordinances shall apply to the use, possession, or transfer of less than one ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years,” according to lansingmi.gov.