Medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, but communities across the state are putting up barriers to block entrepreneurs from setting up shop in what critics say is a clear attempt to subvert the law.
Cities are taking vastly different approaches to regulating how medical pot is dispensed -- from bans in Livonia to months-long moratoriums on marijuana businesses in Grand Rapids and Saginaw, to an environment of open mindedness in Hazel Park, where city leaders see pot dispensaries as a potential revenue source.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan says it is keeping an eye on the dizzying array of laws popping up across the state as local leaders from big cities to rural enclaves try to interpret Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act, which passed in 2008 by 63 percent and establishes the right of certified patients and caregivers to possess pot. Patients can legally use it.
Owner Nick Tennant, 24, inspects the growing plants at Med Grow Cannabis College in Southfield. The school opened in September. Credit: The Detroit News
The business of medical marijuana is rapidly evolving in Michigan, with Royal Oak preparing to pass the state's first zoning law to cluster professional growers and the opening in Southfield of a trade school teaching plant cultivation.
On Tuesday, Royal Oak city leaders are expected to debate a proposed zoning ordinance requiring all licensed medical marijuana caregivers to grow pot in a dispensary in the city's general business district, which encompasses the retail and commercial strip along Woodward Avenue.
Officials say the proposed law would not prohibit caregivers from visiting the homes of patients to assist them with marijuana use or possessing the patient's pot at the patient's home. It would not apply to qualified patients who are physician-certified to grow the drug.
The newly opened Med Grow Cannabis College in Detroit is the first of its kind in Michigan following the state's legalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The suburban college will offer courses in how to grow, use and profit from medical marijuana.
Med Grow's founder, 24-year-old Nick Tennant, said: "This state needs jobs, and we think medical marijuana can stimulate the state economy with hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars."
A new industry has taken root in Detroit with the opening of the city's new 'MedGrow Cannabis College'.
Here students learn how to grow marijuana professionally, debating the 'finer points of inhaling' and which plants 'give the biggest hit'.
And no this isn't some tiny research lab, it's clear what this is about -- making money and building an industry.