Saline City Council Votes to Allow Cannabis Dispensaries Curbside Pickup

March 19th, 2024 Legislation & Policy Updates
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Saline's city council has approved a new ordinance that enables the city's cannabis dispensaries to offer curbside pickup services. The decision, made by a 5-2 vote, reflects the council's aim to provide consumers with more convenient purchasing options while addressing safety and regulatory concerns. Council members Dean Girbach and Janet Dillon opposed the ordinance, citing concerns over safety and the impact on communal spaces. Mayor Brian Marl, alongside councilors Chuck Lesch, Jack Ceo, Nicole Rice, and Jen Harmount, supported the ordinance, emphasizing the importance of adapting to consumer needs and the positive experiences of similar services in other locations.

The ordinance's approval came after discussions about the implications of curbside transactions, particularly regarding safety and the use of cash. Dillon expressed unease with the idea of cash transactions occurring outside the dispensaries and highlighted the unusual necessity of armed guards for these transactions. She compared this to routine activities like grocery or prescription pickups, which do not require such security measures.

In response, Councilor Rice argued that the presence of security guards was a direct response to safety concerns and should not be interpreted as an indication of increased risk. Rice pointed to the successful operation of curbside services in other areas, such as Hazel Park, without incident, suggesting that fears over safety may be overstated.

The ordinance allows dispensaries to designate up to five parking spaces for curbside pickups, though the variability of parking situations among dispensaries presents additional challenges. For example, differences in parking lot ownership and shared spaces with other businesses necessitate careful consideration of how curbside service is implemented to ensure minimal disruption and maintain safety for all patrons of the shared spaces.

Despite the economic development director's inability to find evidence of safety or traffic issues related to curbside pickup in other communities, some council members and residents remained concerned about the impact of the service on community values and the potential for it to facilitate unwanted behaviors.

The debate over curbside pickup in Saline touches on broader issues of cannabis regulation, community standards, and the balance between business innovation and public safety. As the city moves forward with this ordinance, it will be important to monitor its implementation and impact to ensure that the benefits are realized without compromising the wellbeing and values of the Saline community.

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