Law vs Law: medical pot and schools

Marijuana is being sold within 1,000 feet of Ionia High School, in a drug-free zone, but police say there’s nothing they can do about it.

That’s because the newly opened Great Lakes Holistic sells it legally under Michigan’s medical marijuana law.

“They’re just blatantly pushing the law as far as they can and what are we telling kids? It’s OK to leave school and smoke marijuana? Absolutely not,” said Lt. Patrick Richard, commander of the state police post in Ionia.

The issue pits two state laws against each other — one that sets the 1,000-foot drug-free zone around schools; the other, approved by voters, that makes medical marijuana legal.

“I have an issue with the way the law is written,” Richard said.

It’s no accident that Great Lakes Holistic, on M-66, opened to the public on April 20 — a counter-culture holiday celebrating marijuana.

“4-20. Imagine that,” Richard said.

They legally sell marijuana to smoke, as well as marijuana-laced products — brownies, Rice Krispie treats, root beer candy. But, they say, they don’t use it there.

“I’m glad it’s here,” said medical marijuana card holder Burl Quick, who checked out the shop on Friday. “Yeah. I don’t know if I’ll use it, but it looks like they’ve got everything everybody would need.”

Already, the shop has caused quite a buzz in Ionia. State police say neighbors have complained about its proximity to the school.

“As soon as we saw the sign go up, we started investigating,” Richard said.

The club’s operators say they knew nothing about the complaints. “You’re actually the first one I’ve heard that from,” Todd Prior, who helps operates the club, told 24 Hour News 8.

He says the move to the old home was stricltly a business decision. They also operate a shop in the mid-Michigan city of St. Louis.

“West Michigan is very under-served,” Prior said. “We felt the Ionia area was centrally located.”

And, if the 1000-foot rule applies to them, they argue, it should also apply to drug stores.

“There’s a Walgreen’s right next to us,” Prior said. “So, if we were under that obligation, I would think they would be.”

The club’s operators say they don’t cater to kids. It’s a members-only whose customers must have a medical marijuana card, approved by a doctor and the state.

That’s not good enough for state police, who are working with the county prosecutor and sheriff.

“Unfortunately, it’s going to take a change in the law and I think that’s as far as we can go with it right now,” said Richard, the Ionia post commander.

State Sen. Rick Jones, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said a task force in Lansing is studying changes in the medical marijuana law.

“Dispensaries for marijuana should be nowhere near a school or church,” he said.