Reading City Council unan­i­mously voted on Dec. 12 to allow up to five medical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries in Hillsdale County.

The dis­pensary owners told the Col­legian they will open Feb. 12, when the state allows new dis­pen­saries to open.

Reading city council meeting minutes state the city will charge a $4,000 initial facility fee and an annual renewal fee of $3,600 for each license.

Hillsdale County Under­sh­eriff Albright and County Com­mis­sioner Wiley stated that they were against it.

Hillsdale County Sheriff Tim Parker rep­re­sented the county in October opposing the decision to open up to five medical mar­i­juana facil­ities.

“It’s an overall desen­si­ti­zation to drugs in our com­mu­nities. And mul­tiple com­mu­nities have explored the option of running mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries and then decided not to, including the entire county of Branch,” he said. “There are indi­viduals who believe that there is a large windfall of money that will come into the com­mu­nities because of the mar­i­juana industry.”

Parker said that he feared the medical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries would bring addi­tional traffic into Reading, which only has a part-time law enforcement agency, and has no imme­diate plans to boost law enforcement agency, he said, which cost for more service from the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s office.

“We are really tight on man­power cov­ering the entire County of Hillsdale, let alone dealing with addi­tional calls coming into that com­munity.” he said.

Parker said that we can look to states that have legalized mar­i­juana for pos­sible con­se­quences.

“But it depends who you’re looking at. If you’re talking to mar­i­juana advo­cates, it’s the greatest thing that ever hap­pened to them,” Parker said. “If you speak with the law enforcement com­munity and the com­mu­nities where this has occurred, there has been a detriment to that com­munity with an increased person-to-person crime rate.”

Longtime Hillsdale res­ident Jon Smith said he applied and received a medical mar­i­juana card for pain man­agement, and that he smokes about five times per year.

“If you can show me a fact that mar­i­juana increases the person to person crime rate, I will talk about it,” Smith said. “It’s hard to argue it. Medical mar­i­juana does not hurt people in mod­er­ation.”

“Pro­hi­bition has never worked in history,” Smith said. “And it’s not going to work now, regardless what you think about drugs.”

Parker said that although medical mar­i­juana is legal in Michigan, it is still fed­erally illegal — which poses problems for law enforcement.

“Tech­ni­cally all medical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries were illegal before December of this year and yet other com­mu­nities allowed them to be there.” Parker said. “But they are cur­rently getting their mar­i­juana else­where, and they cur­rently can do so.”

Parker said that since mar­i­juana is a cash indus­tries that can’t be financed through a federal bank, it encourages dis­honesty.

“In cash indus­tries there’s a chance for fraud and not paying taxes to the great state of Michigan and to the com­mu­nities,” he said. “On top of that, imagine if you will now in your local com­mu­nities you have store fronts and their children going up in front of the store fronts saying what is this oh this is mar­i­juana place where you can go get your mar­i­juana.”

Parker said that states that have legalized mar­i­juana have seen an increase of driving while intox­i­cated (DWI), but that there is neither a legal nanogram ine­bri­ation limit nor a mar­i­juana breath­a­lyzer.

“We’re going to see an in increase in drug driving cases, so we’re gonna end up seeing an increase in persons harmed in our com­munity,” Parker said. “In general, mar­i­juana tends to mellow people out, right? Why don’t you do a survey with fac­tories and ask them how many of them are doing drug testing anymore because they can’t find enough workers in our com­mu­nities. So if everyone is on mar­i­juana, whose per­forming the ser­vices?”

Urine tests are the main tests for mar­i­juana, Parker said, but will be used on drivers sus­pected to be high on mar­i­juana while driving.

Blood and urine tests can only show current intox­i­cation. But mar­i­juana can stay in one’s system for up to 90 days depending on usage and body weight.

“Cur­rently if we test your blood or urine and you have any trace of THC content, and we couple that with your driving behavior, you could be charged with drugged driving,” Parker said.

Overall, Parker said the sit­u­ation con­fuses him: 

“It’s funny that if we have a[n opioid] drug problem in the com­munity we want to increase this by having more access to [mar­i­juana] drugs,” he said.

Greg Stuchell of Ward 1 ran against legal­izing mar­i­juana because he said he thinks it’s a potential-killer.

“Medical mar­i­juana is ok, but it is still a drug,” he said. “Kids always go from potential to no potential after smoking mar­i­juana.”

Stuchell added that he had per­sonal friends whose lives were derailed by mar­i­juana.

“It’s a gateway drug that to worse ones, and nothing good comes from it,” he said. The only good is the tax money coming from it, but if you look at research, it actually kills busi­nesses around it.”


  • Michael Milburn

    Cannabis-impaired driving is talked about a lot these days. No one should drive impaired, but actual impairment should be mea­sured, and the level of impairment from cannabis that is crim­i­nalized should be the same as the level of impairment for the .08 blood alcohol level. I have developed a new public health app that mea­sures actual impairment – it is called DRUID (an acronym for “DRiving Under the Influence of Drugs”) available now in the App Store and in Google Play. DRUID mea­sures reaction time, decision making, hand-eye coor­di­nation, time esti­mation and balance, and then sta­tis­ti­cally inte­grates hun­dreds of data points into an overall impairment score. DRUID takes just 2 minutes.

    NORML of Cal­i­fornia is pro­moting DRUID on their website and is encour­aging cannabis users to download it.
    Our website is

    DRUID allows cannabis users (or others who drink alcohol, use pre­scription drugs, etc.) to self-assess their own level of impairment and (hope­fully) decide against driving if they are impaired. Prior to DRUID, there was no way for an indi­vidual to accu­rately assess their own level of impairment. DRUID also demon­strates that it is fea­sible to measure impairment reliably by the roadside, not just exposure to a drug. It could also be a way for cannabis users who have developed tol­erance to show they are unim­paired.

    DRUID was fea­tured on NPR’s All Things Con­sidered:

    Also on tele­vision:

    And this past December on Spokane Public Radio:

    After obtaining my Ph.D. at Harvard, I have been a pro­fessor of psy­chology at UMass/Boston for the past 40 years, spe­cial­izing in research methods, mea­surement and sta­tistics.

    Michael Milburn, Pro­fessor
    Department of Psy­chology

    • Zachary Cates

      Were is the dis­pensary suppose to even be there in no info anywere execpt that it open feb 12th thats kinda sketchy

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    I’m fairly lib­er­tarian when it comes to what other people do, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my Rights then it’s OK by me. But, I have to wonder is THIS progress? I travel a great deal on business and I’ve seen Ams­terdam and other centers where pot is used openly and abun­dantly. I’d have to describe them with the same unpleasant word which our Pres­ident was cas­ti­gated so strongly for only a few weeks back. Yes, I know-this is ‘medical mar­i­juana’ and pre­scribed for certain con­di­tions where other drugs don’t seem to work well. But, does anybody really believe that once openly available it won’t end up being used recre­ationally? Lots of things to take into account when con­sid­ering this pro­posal.