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Angry Medical Marijuana Meeting Lasts Only 5 Minutes

Meeting ends in disarray after outgoing mayor appoints herself to the medical marijuana commission then cancels

Brandy Baker / The Detroit News

Voters in Pontiac, Michigan passed medical marijuana ordinances in 2018, reports Click On Detroit. Still, no dispensary licenses have been approved, and no shops have opened.

It seemed pretty clear on Tuesday why it’s so difficult to make any progress. Pontiac’s medical marijuana commission scheduled a meeting Tuesday afternoon, and they held one. But the meeting only lasted about five minutes, reports The Oakland Press.

Medical marijuana business applicants and attorneys surrounded Mayor Deirdre Waterman and interim City Clerk Garland Doyle in the meeting. The applicants were unhappy with the lengthy process, which dragged on for more than three years.

Mayor Waterman appointed Cristi Coles Terrell, Gladys Smith and herself to the commission at the meeting’s start. The mayor then canceled and postponed the meeting. That decision clearly angered those who did show up.

She cited a letter from city attorney Anthony Chubb stating that Doyle “failed to provide the website posting” for the meeting.

‘That’s Under The Mayor’s Control’

“Pursuant to the Michigan Open Meetings Act, all special meetings including the meeting for the medical marijuana commission must be posted on the city’s website 18 hours prior to the convening of the meeting,” Chubb said.

Applicants in the room were furious. One mentioned $400-per-hour lawyer fees.

“We all have jobs, mayor,” one applicant said. “We all work. … You’ve got to get this done, mayor. … It’s been too long.”

When asked for further comment, Mayor Waterman repeated that it was Doyle’s error and that the commission would convene at a later date. But according to Doyle, the mayor is not being honest about that.

“The mayor told an untruth that the meeting had not been properly posted,” Doyle later said. “The clerk’s office posted the meeting inside of the building, which is what the clerk’s office is responsible to do.

In fact, according to Doyle, the city clerk’s office doesn’t control the city’s website. He said that’s under the mayor’s control.

Attorney: Pontiac Is Worst City I’ve Ever Seen At Implementing Medical Marijuana

Doyle said a recent Freedom of Information Act request may show this isn’t the first time the commission has met. Evidence produced by one attendee seemed to back up his assertion.

Charles Blackwell of Detroit showed email correspondence between Waterman’s office and potential commission member Graham Cassano in May of this year. Mayor Waterman appointed Cassino in a May 6 correspondence.

“The most egregious thing that we saw today is that the mayor appointed herself to be a member of the commission,” Doyle said.

Michael Stein is an attorney representing clients who have been trying to get through the medical marijuana process in Pontiac for three years now. Pontiac, he said, is doing the worst job he’s ever seen.

The attorney said he’s looking forward to the next administration in the hopes it will afford a better work environment.

‘It’s Uncertain Whether The Mayor Has The Authority To Appoint Herself’

Paula Givens, a Cannabis attorney who was in the room Tuesday, represents four applicants.

“It’s uncertain whether the mayor has the authority to appoint herself,” Givens said.

“Applicants should not have to bleed money to come to Pontiac and do good. To bring Pontiac jobs and to give away hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable giving. We want to do business in Pontiac,” she added.

20 Dispensaries Approved… Back In August, 2018

Voters approved Proposal One on Aug. 7, 2018, by a six-vote margin, permitting 20 dispensaries or provisioning centers. It allows for an unlimited number of growers, processors, security transporters and safety compliance facilities, in accordance with Michigan law and city ordinances.

Cesar Chavez, Walton Boulevard and downtown districts will each have five of the 20 dispensaries.

Doyle said as of Tuesday that four Cesar Chavez applicants have appealed, along with nine in the downtown district. Of the 48 applicants in the non-overlay district, 15 have appealed after Doyle listed his top five.

City Clerk Says Mayor Didn’t Expect Anyone To Attend

Waterman and her staff didn’t expect anyone to show up for Tuesday’s meeting, Doyle argued.

He doesn’t believe the commission will make any progress throughout the duration of Mayor Waterman’s term.

“The voters made a decision, they elected a new mayor who will take office in January, Mayor-Elect Greimel,” he said. The city clerk said he hoped the new mayor would fix the logjam.

But mayoral appointments last four years. And Mayor Waterman added that she plans to keep serving on the committee and see the process through.