Yes, its a real thing.
The first drive through marijuana shops have started to pop up in Detroit (the one featured here is called 420 Dank), but the local law enforcement seems to have an issue. This is yet another example of how rapid reform constantly raises new questions and problems. Maybe if cannabis had not been wrongfully kept illegal for so long, these new ‘grey’ areas would not be so polarizing.
USA Today Reports:
DETROIT — With some medical-marijuana stores in Detroit now offering drive-through purchasing, the city’s marketplace for medical pot has spiraled out of control and needs to be regulated, Mayor Mike Duggan said.
Dozens of dispensaries line 8 Mile and other major thoroughfares in the city, and a Free Press investigation found that at least three offer drive-through service.
With medical marijuana being dispensed in Detroit as casually as burgers and fries, the mayor senses urgency as the City Council prepares to debate next week how to regulate the proliferating industry. Duggan said he supports restrictive zoning that would govern where the dispensaries can be located in relation to schools, churches, adult entertainment establishments and neighborhoods.
Proponents of medical-pot sales said that regulations could bring tax revenue to the city and eliminate unscrupulous dispensaries that might sell to anyone who walks in. But they warned that wrong-headed regulations, including those that single out drive-through service as any different than drive-through lanes at ordinary drugstores, could chill a new industry that promises to bring jobs and tax dollars as part of Detroit’s economic rebound.
“We need to get an ordinance passed, because right now we have no ability to enforce anything,” Duggan told reporters Friday. “I think we need to eliminate the drive-through aspect, which has now been added to some of these facilities.”
The Free Press found three drive-through dispensaries, each in a former restaurant or bank that had drive-through lanes. The managers or owners of two of the dispensaries defended their drive-through windows, saying they are useful for people with disabilities that affect their mobility or other medical conditions.
The owner of the recently opened 420 Dank, located in a former restaurant near theDetroit Police Department’s Eastern District Offices, said she understands concerns about the mushrooming number of dispensaries in Detroit, but she said it’s unfair to single out those with drive-through windows.
“there are patients who aren’t mobile, who can’t walk in and out of the store,” said the owner, Kim G., who asked that her last name not be used to protect her children’s identity.
For customers like Lisa Price, the dispensary provides convenience and safety. Price, 55, of Detroit, suffers from chronic back pain that she said has lead to two surgeries. She said she counts on 420 Dank for relief.
“As long as it’s legal and you have a medical card, it shouldn’t be a problem,” she said. “It’s better than trying to buy off the street.”
Price said she supports getting rid of dispensaries that sell to those without medical marijuana cards, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of people with legitimate medical needs.
Kisha Smith, a manager of Green River Meds, located in a former bank on the city’s west side, also said the drive-through at that facility serves a medical need. She cited several customers with skin conditions who use topical, cannabis-infused oils and lotions and often don’t want to be seen inside the store.
The dispute over drive-through dispensaries underscores the sensitivities of the debate over how to regulate medical marijuana shops in a city with dozens of them, two of which have attracted police attention because of shootings. Residents and city officials have complained that their neighborhoods are inundated with unregulated dispensaries.
Councilman James Tate, who could introduce as early as Tuesday an ordinance he’s been crafting for months with city lawyers and the police department, also said he believes drive-though dispensary windows shouldn’t be allowed.
“Right now, I’m not in favor of it,” he said, although the city’s ordinance, if approved, could be amended later if dispensaries provide a compelling case.
Tate said said he wants an ordinance that allows for safe access to medical marijuana through legitimate, licensed facilities not located in clusters or near schools, churches,recreation centers or adult-entertainment facilities.
Councilman Scott Benson, who lives near the neon green and white painted 420 Dank, said he’s concerned that the sheer number of dispensaries “calls into question their commitment to providing medical marijuana versus selling smoke-able marijuana for recreational use.” He said he supports banning drive-through windows at dispensaries.
Despite the criticism of drive-through windows, Smith said she’s been encouraged by what she’s heard about the direction the ordinance is taking, and she doesn’t consider it a crackdown on legitimate dispensaries.
“We try to do everything the right way,” she said. “We want to work inside of all the laws and make sure everything’s up to par.”
Michigan is one of only three states that allow medical marijuana but which don’t specifically allow dispensaries, said Karen O’Keefe, a spokeswoman for the nonprofitMarijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C.
Because dispensaries in Michigan operate amid conflicting opinions about whether they are legal, they are not licensed, and so no one knows how many are open in Detroit, said Robin Schneider, legislative liaison for the National Patients Rights Association, a Michigan-based trade group of dispensary owners.
“If I had to guess, I’d say there’s between 80 and 100,” Schneider said.
Dispensaries safeguard society as well as medical-pot users, she said, because instead of relying on street-corner dealers or trying haphazardly to grow their own cannabis, medical-marijuana users can visit a normal-looking retail shop.
“This ensures that patients are getting a clean, safe, tested product. It also ensures that the various types of medical marijuana are available, including the non-smokeable forms,” such as capsules, liquids and lotions, she said.