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Friday, December 18, 2015

Field Report Ordinance #61 and Marijuana Reform in Detroit. The Next Step

by Richard C. Clement

The 6 to 1 vote by the body of the Detroit City Council to approve Ordinance #61 for Marijuana Management and regulation in is a good start to work from. With modifications and input from the citizens of Detroit this Ordinance can be modified, re-codified to everyone’s satisfaction before March of 2016.

The good news first is that everyone agrees about the need to be licensed with the City as a business.

Without taxing the churches, a license fee amount agreed upon by all would bring significant revenue to the City’s coffers to be re-distributed to quality of life issues like park maintenance, road repair, recreation centers for children and seniors, etc.  A percentage of that revenue would go for the management of the industry with a new Department of Cannabis at City Hall.

This department would consist of a few administrators and representatives from Building Safety, Fire Marshall, and Treasury that would be responsible for the establishment, management, and quality of Marijuana used in the City of Detroit.

Other issues can be resolved by adhering to the following steps.
  1. If you support the efforts of my friend and esteemed Pastor Marvin Winans, then you should google search the following topics, Harry Ainslinger, Michelle Alexander, Hemp Concrete, and have him meet me at Miles Green Acers Compassion Center at an agreed time and date. Then have Brother Marvin make an appointment at (313) 224-4535 to see me in the office so we can talk about a solution about (but not limited to) weed, blight, and other things to make this city right.
  2. Skip to Step 7 otherwise proceed to Step 3
  3. If you are or planning to be a cannabis business owner, it is strongly recommended that you “know the neighborhood”. If you the owner or your landlord establishes a good relationship with your neighbors, then everything will be fine.  Issues like parking, security, and operational hours are things to consider when moving into a new building. If the neighbors (including religious institutions) within the proximity of the business approve of your location, then you may be granted a waiver to remain at the location by the Board of Zoning Appeals.
  4. Skip to Step 7 otherwise proceed to Step 5
  5. Upon presentation of signatures from 5000 registered electors in the City of Detroit, the citizens will direct City Clerk Janice Winfrey to place Ordinance #61 to a referendum up or down vote of the people. This vote is required to be held at the next regularly scheduled election in 2016.  (August or November) During this time, the ordinance is suspended and cannot be enforced.
  6. Detroit voters have the opportunity to implement language that would be acceptable to all stakeholders, addressing issues like zoning regulations and yearly license fee amounts as an ordinance with 5000 valid signatures from registered electors who live IN the City of Detroit through the ballot initiative process.
  7. End process.

When it is all said and done all interested stakeholders like native and longtime residents of Detroit will have a say in the direction of the future of Detroit.  Otherwise, we want to thank Councilmember James Tate of District 1 for stirring up the "pot".  He was recently selected as the keynote speaker at the Founders Day Luncheon by Detroit Alumni Chapter of Alabama State University on February 21st, 2015 at 11:00am at DeCarlos Hall and Banquet Center. Tickets are $40 each and can be picked up in Councilmember Pro Tem Cushingberry’s office. 

Working for Weed Peace in Detroit
We hope to see supporters of higher education, and friends of Councilmember Tate like my friend and colleague Pastor Marvin Winans come to our event. Friends and colleagues of Richard Clement are welcome to attend also. Please call (313) 224-4535 or email if you are interested in attending with the proceeds going toward needy students attending Alabama State University.

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday* and we want to see you all in 2016!
Where Holiday* = Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Your Personal Birthday, New Years,etc

Richard C. Clement  
Marijuana Policy Analyst
Office of Councilmember Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr. District 2

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ending the War on Pot in the City of Detroit with Democracy at the Ballot Box - Protecting the Right to Vote by Referendum

By Richard C. Clement

On Thursday December 17, 2015 at 1:15pm, the Detroit City Council will be voting to implement changes in Ordinance number #61 that will eliminate up to 95% of the Marijuana Dispensary businesses in the City of Detroit.  The reasons for their removal is that a number of community groups and Church pastors say that these places are illegal according to the State of Michigan.  This is the same State of Michigan that poisoned the water in Flint Michigan, committed Voter Fraud by re-establishing the Emergency Manager by making it referendum proof, and decimated public education with under-performing academies and a bunch of MBA’s running the education system instead of educators.

Another reason for the “swift passage” of this ordinance is that a sitting City Council-member has been promised a financial interest in a marijuana facility if this ordinance passed as written. The Council-member will get a 10% stake in a facility called “The Reef”.  A direct quote from the article states the following:

“I was there, and I can personally attest to the fact that Terrence Mansour is working on a deal to give a Detroit city council member and their significant other a 10 percent cut of the action from his dispensary to pass these new rules,” Brikho said. “It’s a pay-to-play system that is being created by these dirty, corrupt bureaucrats and the fat cats like Mansour who own them. This is a heist that is taking place. It’s criminal.”

After the national embarrassment of indictments, convictions, and issues of public trust, the only honorable thing to do is let the Citizens of Detroit vote on the ordinance in the general election in November 2016 through the referendum process. Council-member Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr. believes that the Citizen Electors of the City of Detroit should be making that decision to restore trust and integrity in Detroit and it's elected officials.

Objections to ordinance

  1. Unreasonable Hours of Operation. Forcing businesses to close at 8pm based on unsupported data may be un-constitutional and may be challenged in a court of law.
  2. Unreasonable excuses to prevent consumption onsite of Marijuana after purchase or growing. If onsite consumption is allowed for Hookah Bars, Micro Breweries, and Cigar Bars, there is no excuse to prevent onsite consumption of marijuana on private property with the permission of the owner. Prosecuting these types of “crimes” is a waste of law enforcement, and legal resources of the City of Detroit.
  3. Removal of Drive through businesses based on unsubstantiated data and the faulty theory of the late Harry Ainslinger 1st Director of the US Drug Enforcement Agency(DEA)     
  4. Arbitrary and capricious zoning distances for MMJ businesses and neighborhoods that will Zone 90% of all marijuana businesses out of business while liquor stores and churches are allowed to cluster with no extra requirements. 
  5. Prohibiting Waivers for Marijuana Businesses
  1. 24hr operations with a special permit license
  2. Removal of onsite consumption restrictions from the ordinance
  3. Special Permit to operate a Drive through. These places should be zoned like a bank or drugstore like CVS, Walgreens, etc.
  4. Allow a special use permit for cultivation in commercial areas. 
    1. B4 industry, square footage
  5. 1000 Feet from a school under the US Drug Free Zone laws
  6. Community Benefit Agreement with the Marijuana facilities promising to hire Detroit residents, and help keep up the neighborhood adding to the uplift of the quality of life for residents. Including allowing business owners to select a school and perform 20 hrs. community service.
A ballot initiative to replace this zoning ordinance will give Detroit citizens a perfect opportunity to conduct business as long as they are being good citizens. Currently there are an untold number of Hair Salons, Liquor Stores, and churches that are right next to each other. Some pastors welcome the new business as it has been treated as a blight remover and employer.

The work being performed by these Marijuana business owners on their property rivals HGTV and it is something that should be honored because it raised the value of the property. For people who say that these businesses are “dumping” on Detroit, look at what they are dumping. Some of the revenue from these places could be used to fix public education and fund school districts like Highland Park Michigan, Inkster, and Detroit Public Schools for example.

Medical Marijuana has been the best blessing the City has ever had because lots of investors in state and out of state are headed to Detroit and Michigan to find property. Empty building that were not being used are being re-purposed and paying property taxes to the City, unlike Churches that are open and/or under construction unopened.

People, we need your support for letting the people vote on this issue.  We strongly encourage owners and supporters to contact Detroit City council-members (click here) and let them know how you feel about it.

The citizens of Detroit have too much sense and wisdom to be bought off from special interest groups, and un-informed clergy members who are stuck in the draconian era of 1939 of prohibition and don’t take the time to read. We are issuing an open challenge to Pastor Marvin Winans to visit one of these esteemed facilities right next to his church at Miles Green Acers on Woodward and 7 mile next to the Doughnut shop.  We will make sure that no one bites him and we hope that he and his pastor friends visit the ones on Woodward Avenue.  

We want the law to respect the will of the people instead of one person on the church steeple. We are a democracy not a theocracy!

Let the People Vote!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Detroit/Wayne County Property Taxes for 2016 - Plan Now to Save Later

By Richard C. Clement 

    Many Detroit Residents received certified letters from the Wayne County Treasurer in December of 2015 regarding their property taxes.  This letter is giving you fair warning that your will lose your home if you don’t pay the amount stated.  If you have contacted the Wayne County Treasurer and have a payment agreement then you are fine. If you own property in Detroit then you have an opportunity to redress your grievance about your property tax if you feel that the amount is not right.

     You have three opportunities to save your home, and lower your property taxes. December and January are the months to make the plan to appeal your assessment. On the first 15 days of February, the Board of Assessors allows a homeowner to apply to appeal their assessed tax amount. (ClickHere) for the details to appeal a City of Detroit Tax Assessment. To be successful at a hearing, you must do the following:
  1. Get a current appraisal of your home/property
  2. Keep up with your payment paperwork like receipts for payment and other maintenance work
  3. Find 3 homes that are comparable in size to your home and the selling price. If the homes sold for less than yours is appraised, then your taxes will be lowered.
  4. File an appeal before Feb 15th with the City of Detroit
  5. Get a hearing date from the assessor’s office
  6. A decision is rendered by the Board of Assessors
  7. If you are satisfied then you are done with it and the process ends here.
  8. If you are not satisfied with the decision you can appeal to the Board of Review in writing on or before the second Monday in March which is March 14,2016 to get an appointment.
  9. If you are not satisfied with the Board of Review's decision, then to protect your property rights, you must file an appeal with the  State of MichiganTax Tribunal

   Please be aware that some cases like buying a home dirt cheap in an auction, your property taxes may go up. Property taxes are driven from values in property surrounding your home in the neighborhood. Otherwise, there were many smiles from homeowners who left the 8th floor of the Coleman Young Municipal Center because of their savings.

     The second and third opportunities involve the certified letter from the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office.  When you turn the letter over to the back, you have two opportunities to save your home and, dispute the amount owed. The show cause hearing will give a home owner a right to dispute the amount owed or make arrangements to pay the balance. If you lose your appeal in this hearing, the next one is the notice of foreclosure hearing that will lay the groundwork for total loss of the home by March 31st, 2016.

     However, if you make contact with someone right now, it will never get to this desperate situation of losing a home and becoming homeless. If you need help paying your property taxes (click here) for detailed information on what can be done.

For housing assistance these are some contact agencies that can help:

Wayne County Department of Human Services – DHS (formerly Family Independence Agency) can be contacted at (313) 456-1000. This is a general number from which you can obtain the phone number and address of your local DHS office. You can also simply go to your local office and apply for State Emergency Relief (SER). Offices are located throughout Wayne County.

Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, Wayne County Office, (313) 899-1162. If you are a veteran with at least 6 months of wartime duty, you may qualify for financial assistance.

Wayne County Veteran Affairs (Soldiers and Sailors Relief Fund), (313) 224-1862. If you are a veteran with any wartime service and an honorable discharge, you may qualify.

Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) – (313) 842-7010, Help is available to those who qualify and is not limited to those of Arabic ethnicity.

City of Detroit Human Services Department, Central Operations Division – (313) 852-5634. (Detroit Homeowners only.) - Good Stuff on the Internet