Citizens flood City Hall over marijuana concerns

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East Lansing residents took to the podium to voice their concerns about the changing landscape of the city in a packed City Council meeting March 26. With rising buildings and wafting smoke from marijuana, some residents said they are afraid the city they once knew is being transformed into something unrecognizable. In the public comment portion of the meeting, many residents took a stand.

The interim president of Michigan State, Satish Udpa, was the first to speak before the City Council. Udpa briefly highlighted campus culture and “international students whose cultures tend to be more conservative than ours” as a reason why City Council should reconsider allowing provisional marijuana centers to open close to campus.

As a public university, Michigan State receives substantial funding from the United States government. Currently, recreational and medical marijuana are not federally legal, meaning the university must adhere to federal standards to ensure no funding is cut.

“I beg with you to consider this carefully,” Udpa said before leaving the podium.

President and CEO of Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, April Clobes echoed Udpa. She said provisioning centers could become a public nuisance because they are in direct conflict with federal regulations, effectively creating a cash economy in the same city where the credit union is headquartered. Clobes reiterated that the federal credit union can not hire anyone that uses or distributes marijuana.

Lisa Knowles, a general dentist with a practice at 1451 East Lansing Drive, was particularly concerned with the smell of marijuana wafting into her building.
“What do we want East Lansing to smell like?” she asked. Knowles said she has no problems with usage but is concerned about health effects, as a healthcare professional herself.

Attorney Mike Bahoura took to the podium to advocate for medical marijuana dispensaries, citing Mt. Pleasant and Ann Arbor as cities who have allowed dispensaries to open and saw no reduction in their own federal funding. In regards to his clients and the concerns of the citizens, he said “We have an extensive odor plan, when we get product it’s already stored and dried and we’re going to have carbon filters. The last thing we want is to be a nuisance in the city.

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