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Ferndale

August 5, 2014

Medical marijuana caregivers get permit to open dispensary

By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer

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Meridian Wellness, described as a wellness center that will have a medical marijuana component, will open in this former convenience store at 1915 E. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale.

FERNDALE — City Council approved a special land use permit during the July 28 meeting that will allow a medical marijuana dispensary to open at 1915 E. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale.

Three caregivers — Adam Applebaum, Thomas Phillips and Justin Sabbaugh — applied for the special land use with the Planning Commission to run and operate their business, Meridian Wellness, out of the location.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing during its June meeting and recommended to council to approve the permit.

“The applicants came before the Planning Commission for site plan approval, as the applicants were proposing a wellness facility with a medical marijuana component to it,” Community and Economic Development Director Derek Delacourt said. “As part of the ordinance, the application was reviewed by city staff and police staff, and complies with the city ordinance for such a facility.”

The currently unoccupied location previously was a convenience store. As part of opening a wellness center with a medical marijuana component, the applicants had to make sure the business followed a set of requirements, including not growing or having use of marijuana at the facility and making the facility available for inspection during business hours.

In order to earn the special land use permit, the applicants had to meet six predefined requirements that included putting no additional service demands on the city and not detracting from or reducing the desirability of the surrounding area, all of which the Planning Commission determined the plan met.

In the applicants’ official medical marijuana preliminary review checklist, they identified the proposed use for the facility as being able to provide a safe location for their members to meet with their patients and provide other wellness information.

“It will be a wellness facility with an aspect of medical marijuana as one of the things we will be offering, but we have worked hard to be in accordance with all laws,” Applebaum said to council. “We are an established nonprofit, so we would have other ways of generating funds, such as selling clothes and having classes and doing any number of things to offset costs.”

Applebaum said someone would have to be a member to enter the facility, which would keep it secure from the general public, but a complete membership plan had not been finalized yet.

In accordance with state legislation, each caregiver can have up to five clients for a potential total of 15 patients being seen at Meridian Wellness. Applebaum said all three caregivers are serving patients at this time but are not at the maximum of 15.

By having a neutral location, Applebaum said it provides a safe place for both the caregivers and the patients.

“This is not a doctor’s office where you can walk in and get certified; we take on who we want to take on and who we feel we can cure and help,” he said. “It is very hard for a patient to get matched with a caregiver because a lot of people feel uncomfortable with a caregiver coming into their home, and it can be very scary. This way, we can facilitate a neutral ground with security, and we want to be the ones that do it right and create a place you can come and feel safe and get the knowledge.”

Delacourt said if any violations are found when it comes to zoning or the special land use permit, the city can handle it through the Police Department or the city attorney’s office.

The facility will have safes to keep any product secure and locked away, but Applebaum said he is not in favor of removing the product from the store every night and hopes to keep it locked away overnight.

“You can store liquor at a bar or store overnight, and I just think it is more dangerous for us to take (the marijuana) off-site every night,” he said. “It creates an opportunity, if people knew we were coming off-site, for a dangerous situation.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Joshua Gordon at jgordon@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1077.