March 2 hearing to weigh pot retailer’s TRO claim in Royal Oak
royal oak – The recreational marijuana debate in Royal Oak is heating up again amid a debate over how the city is handling candidates, legal challenges and opposition from a school district and residents.
Two of the nearly three dozen candidates hoping to become one of Royal Oak’s first marijuana retailers have filed for a preliminary injunction with the Oakland Circuit Court in an attempt to stop the city from approve other special use permit applications for facilities.
Oakland Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot was scheduled to consider a marijuana retailer’s injunction request on March 2.
In separate complaints, Birmingham-based Quality Roots and Attitude Wellness of Troy want the city to stop considering applicants after two companies with significantly less experience were recently shortlisted for review, the first step to getting a special use permit for a marijuana facility.
The lawsuit alleges violation of city and state ordinances, that the sessions were conducted in secret in violation of the Open Meetings Act, without notice or minutes.
Attitude Wellness, part of Lume Cannabis Co., which has 30 marijuana retailers in Michigan, filed a preliminary injunction Feb. 18, attorney Kevin Blair said.
“Lume Cannabis Co. is the state’s premier cannabis company with a proven track record of providing high-quality, safe, and rigorously tested cannabis at affordable prices for Michigan patients and consumers,” Blair said, who represents Lume and requested an injunction.
In his filing, Brian Etzel, a lawyer for Quality Roots, alleged: “To compensate for their lack of experience and qualifications, Gatsby (Cannabis) and Royal Treatment have each hired a former elected official – former Mayor Dennis Cowan and former City Commissioner James Rasor – as their respective representative and consultant for lobbying city officials. ”
A city spokeswoman, Judy Davids, asked questions of city manager Paul Brake or city attorney Aaron Leal. Leal referred questions to Brake, who declined to comment on the allegations or lawsuits.
In an interview earlier this month, Brake said no candidate received special consideration and no elected official requested special consideration from any candidate. He described the role of the Planning Commission in the special permit process as advisory and that any final decision is made by the elected Municipal Commission.
Etzel said Wednesday he had not received a court date from Chabot but “would expect those to be addressed at the same time as the facts are identical.”
Meanwhile, Oakland schools had hoped to go before the city’s planning commission as soon as possible to prevent him from considering other special use permits near his schools in the city. A proposed site, within 88 feet of a vocational school near Gatsby, did not get a commission recommendation for a permit. But Gatsby can request a review from the commission.
The next committee meeting is scheduled for February 28.
Brake said Wednesday that the agenda for the next city commission meeting “has nothing to do with” the Gatsby or Royal Treatment marijuana apps.
On Tuesday, school superintendent Wanda Cook-Robinson sent an email alert to parents, similar to a “Call To Action” she launched earlier this month before the Planning Commission votes on the Gatsby proposal. Dozens of parents showed up at the town hall to express their opposition.
“Oakland schools’ top priority is the health and well-being of our students,” Cook-Robinson wrote this week. “Approving Gatsby Cannabis Co.’s application would set a dangerous precedent.”?
“Oakland schools expect the city commission to vote to accept the planning commission’s recommendation, as Timothy Thwing, the city’s community manager, recently said in a post that it’s rare for the commission council votes against the recommendations of the planning commissioners. “ (I don’t understand: why would the town’s community director speak on behalf of the schools??)