Sterling Heights residents Calvin Butrus and Fadi Syoufjy received approval from the Lapeer Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for a parking space variance on Monday. This decision is a crucial step in their plan to establish a marijuana cultivation facility at a site previously occupied by Lapeer Ultimate Linings on Imlay City Road. The property, zoned I-1 Industrial, currently hosts a 6,150 square foot building.
The variance was necessary due to city and state regulations that require marijuana grow facilities to have a minimum of 15 parking spaces. Butrus and Syoufjy sought a reduction of nine spaces, intending to provide only six at their facility, named Farmboyz. The duo, who will primarily run the business, plans to carpool, utilizing just one parking space. They do not anticipate hiring many employees or requiring extensive parking for deliveries.
Their request was backed by the city's planning consultant, who pointed out the unique limitations of the site, including a large right of way for Imlay City Road and a railroad right of way, which restricts expansion of parking areas. Despite efforts, the applicants were unable to secure a shared parking agreement with neighboring properties. Adjacent to the site are Taylor's Family Car Care, a vacant parcel, and a marijuana processing facility, formerly Ray C's Extreme Store.
Lapeer city has authorized six marijuana dispensaries but has not capped the number of licenses for marijuana cultivation, processing, and transportation within the community. In a related development, the Lapeer Planning Commission is set to review a site plan for an 11,480-square-foot organic medical marijuana facility on Genesee Street. This project, initially approved in November 2021, is positioned between Arnold's Car Wash and the Exclusive-brand marijuana dispensary, with two residential duplexes nearby. The applicant must seek an extension or re-submit a new site plan if substantial progress is not made within a year of the original site-plan approval.
Former Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson, aged 70, has begun serving a 55-month sentence at a federal prison in Minnesota, following his conviction in a bribery scandal that tainted Michigan's marijuana industry. Johnson, once a prominent Republican lawmaker and later a key figure in regulating the state's marijuana sector, was confirmed as an inmate at the FPC Duluth, a minimum-security facility located near Lake Superior, as per the latest inmate database.
Before his fall from grace, Johnson was a powerful figure in Lansing. His journey from a lawmaker to a lobbyist and eventually the chief regulator of Michigan's burgeoning marijuana industry came to an ignominious end after he was found to have received over $110,000 in bribes. His tenure as chairman of the medical marijuana licensing board from May 2017 to April 2019 was marred by these illegal transactions, involving marijuana lobbyists and a businessman. Notably, these bribes included encounters with a sex worker, who referred to him as "Batman."
Johnson's incarceration follows an unsuccessful bid to reduce his prison time and a request to serve part of his sentence under house arrest, citing health concerns from recent heart bypass surgery. He had been granted a postponement to begin his sentence in late October, but U.S. District Judge Jane Beckering refused a further delay. Johnson's attorney, Nicholas Dondzila, had argued for an extension until February 1st, 2023, citing ongoing medical needs and potential treatments that would pose a financial burden on the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
This case marks the most significant public corruption scandal in Michigan's capital in three decades. Johnson was accused of manipulating the state marijuana industry, an action Judge Beckering described as an "unfettered abuse of power." In April, Johnson admitted to accepting bribes to influence his decisions on the licensing board.
Three other individuals, including two lobbyists and a businessman, also pleaded guilty in the bribery scheme but have yet to begin their prison sentences. Lobbyist Brian Pierce is serving a two-year sentence in Pennsylvania, while lobbyist Vince Brown is serving 20 months in a separate federal facility in the same state. Oakland County businessman John Dawood Dalaly is serving a 28-month sentence in West Virginia.
A recent incident at STIIIZY - Ferndale, a cannabis dispensary located at 642 E. Nine Mile Rd in Ferndale, led to an arrest following a burglary attempt. The Ferndale Police Department reported that they were alerted to the situation when the store's alarm was triggered at approximately 4:40 a.m. on December 1st.
Upon arriving at the scene, officers discovered a vehicle that had been backed into the front door of the business. As the police approached, the individuals involved in the incident fled. Despite the initial escape, an arrest was subsequently made in connection with the burglary.
The case has been forwarded to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office for a review of potential charges. The Ferndale Police Department continues to investigate the incident to uncover further details and ascertain the full scope of the event.
In the realm of cannabis concentrates, misconceptions about the health implications of residual solvents, particularly butane, are widespread. It's crucial to clarify these misunderstandings with factual data and scientific evidence. In Michigan, the regulation for butane in cannabis concentrates is set at a maximum of 800 parts per million (ppm), which translates to 0.08% of the substance. To put this into perspective, in a 1-gram sample of dabs, the highest butane content would be 0.0008 grams. Considering an average-sized dab is about 0.05 grams, this equates to a mere 0.00004 grams of butane per dab, assuming the concentrate is at the upper limit of the legal threshold.
It's worth noting that many producers strive to reduce the butane levels in their products significantly below the maximum limit. Typically, concentrations are brought down to 500 ppm or even less, with several companies aiming to keep them under 300 ppm.
To understand the implications of these figures, let's refer to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines on butane exposure. According to the NIH, symptoms like drowsiness in humans are observed at butane concentrations of 16,000 mg per cubic meter over a 30-minute period, which is deemed "non-disabling." This level is substantially higher than what is found in cannabis concentrates, requiring direct and concentrated inhalation of butane to achieve such exposure.
Moreover, when comparing the inhalation of butane from using a lighter to spark cannabis to that from consuming a dab, the latter represents a significantly lower exposure, even with larger dab sizes.
Delving further into the mathematics of butane exposure through dabbing, let's assume a concentrate with the maximum allowed butane level of 800 ppm. To reach even the lower threshold of acute butane exposure, one would need to consume an unrealistic amount of 10,000 grams of such dabs within 30 minutes. This quantity is far beyond typical consumption patterns and highlights the safety of these regulated levels.
In comparison, Michigan's regulation is stringent, especially when juxtaposed with other states like Oregon, where the limit is set at 5,000 ppm. While there may be debate over the ideal limit, Michigan's standard of less than 1,000 ppm appears to be well within a safe and reasonable range, ensuring consumer safety without compromising product quality.
Michigan's public transit system is facing a significant challenge in recruiting and retaining bus drivers, primarily due to stringent drug testing regulations. Clark Harder, the executive director of the Michigan Public Transit Association, highlighted a statewide driver shortage, attributing it to the rigorous alcohol and drug testing requirements for drivers.
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In Pinckney, a proposal for a new recreational marijuana microbusiness, Essence, is underway. The village planning commission is scheduled to review a special land use permit application on December 4th. This review could lead to a recommendation for the village council to approve the land use in a subsequent meeting.
Northville resident Marco Lytwyn is spearheading the project. Lytwyn's plan involves establishing Essence as a comprehensive marijuana facility, encompassing the sale, cultivation, and processing of marijuana products. However, before Essence becomes operational, there are several procedural steps to be completed. These include obtaining a Class A marijuana microbusiness license from the village and receiving site plan approval.
The proposed location for Essence is a currently unoccupied plot at 1268 E. M-36, situated between popular fast-food chains Wendy's and Taco Bell. As of now, Lytwyn has opted not to make public comments before the planning commission meeting, where he is expected to present detailed plans.
Preliminary designs for Essence showcase a multifaceted facility. The layout includes a retail showroom, complete with a cashier area, waiting lobby, and check-in space. Additionally, the plans indicate dedicated areas for marijuana cultivation (grow room), storage, and processing activities.
Under Michigan law, Class A marijuana microbusinesses are permitted to cultivate up to 300 marijuana plants on-site. These businesses can also process and sell marijuana and marijuana-infused products to individuals aged 21 and over.
There is also potential for development on a second parcel at the proposed site, though its specific use remains unspecified at this time.
The village of Pinckney has recently expanded its marijuana business categories, following the state's inclusion of Class A marijuana microbusinesses. This amendment, passed on September 25th, is part of the village's broader approach to adapting to evolving state regulations on marijuana businesses, as explained by village Zoning Administrator Julie Durkin.
The Pinckney planning commission will conduct its review of Lytwyn's special land use permit request at Village Hall, located at 220 S. Howell St.
Since Pinckney voters approved a 2020 ballot measure allowing marijuana businesses, there has been a gradual increase in such establishments. The Means Project, currently under construction at the former Pinckney Elementary site, is notable for having secured three different types of marijuana business licenses: retail, processing, and grow operation. However, the progress of this project appears to have slowed.
Pinckney holds the distinction of being the first municipality in Livingston County to permit marijuana businesses, overturning a previous ban. The 2020 ballot measure passed with 54.3% approval.
Presently, Pinckney offers four types of marijuana business licenses: Class A microbusiness, another microbusiness category, a safety compliance facility, and a secure transportation operation. According to Village Clerk Jill Chapman, while there have been inquiries, no additional applications have been submitted.