Lawmakers in Ann Arbor, Michigan have voted to allow up to 28 medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within city limits. Currently, about a dozen dispensaries are doing business in Ann Arbor. The city council set the cap with a vote at its meeting on May 21.
Ann Arbor, home of the annual Hash Bash, has a long history of progressive cannabis policy. City residents voted to decriminalize marijuana in 1972 by enacting a fine of only five dollars for possession. And in 2004, voters approved medical marijuana legislation by a margin of three to one.
Activists Want More
Not everybody in Ann Arbor agrees with the limit on dispensaries. Chuck Ream received a High Times lifetime achievement award for his activism in 2014. He sees the council’s action as a continuation of prohibitionist policies, according to a report. At Monday’s meeting, he told the council just how he felt.
“To place an arbitrary number on the amount of dispensaries that will be allowed, or a distance requirement between them, is pure Reefer Madness,” he said.
Besides setting a limit on the number of shops, the city council is also considering increasing the mandated minimum distance between them. But instead of being more restrictive, Ream believes that Ann Arbor should embrace the opportunity that legal medical marijuana offers. To do otherwise continues the stigma of cannabis and is contrary to the will of the people, he argues.
“Ann Arbor should be the first city to set aside a cannabis business district, which would be vibrant and popular,” he said. “We can’t have caps on dispensaries and mandatory distances between dispensaries in Ann Arbor. It makes it look like there is something bad about cannabis, which Ann Arbor voters absolutely do not believe.”
Ream, who once operated a dispensary in Ann Arbor,