Lansing Candidates And Marijuana – A Primary Election Primer

lansing michigan marijuana cannabis

On August 8 voters will select candidates in primary elections all across Michigan. In Lansing the issue of marijuana law reform is especially hot and prevalent to the upcoming electoral contest.

Lansing will vote in the primary on August 8; the general election will be held on November 7. Courtesy of the Lansing State Journal, most of the candidates for key city positions have expressed their opinion on the subject of marijuana dispensaries in the city.

LSJ reporter Eric Lacy asked each candidate this question:

The candidates’ responses are listed below. Some longer responses were edited for space; please visit the original publication for the full responses.

POSITION: Mayor (LINK to article)

Currently in office: Virg Bernero (resigning post after 2017)

Candidates response:

Harold Leeman Jr.: ”I will respect the laws of the federal, state and local governments.”

Michael Gillenkirk: ”All drugs are not part of Lansing and needs to be in place for our regrowth. The idea “drugs” are a good thing because someone says so is the same as saying eating a human being is ‘another source of red meat.’ … Really?”

Judi Brown Clarke: ”As a city council member, I proposed a medical marihuana ordinance that aligns with current state law… It is my desire to create a safe and fair process that provides Lansing’s patients access to quality businesses and safe products. Key aspects include the establishment/oversight of a Lansing Medical Marihuana Commission, reduction of dispensaries from 75 to 25, and buffering zones…”

Andy Schor: ”As state representative, I voted for the law passed in September… We must now accomplish this regulatory framework and adequately regulate these dispensaries… regularly inspect these dispensaries… bad actors should be fined or closed. I am also concerned about clustering of dispensaries and would rather see them more spread out to prevent “marijuana districts” in Lansing.”

Danny Trevino: did not respond


POSITION: At-Large Council Member (two seats available) (LINK to article)

Candidates response:

Justin DeBoer: ”My stance on the medical marijuana industry is that we should embrace it 100% because the industry will bring more tax revenue for the city, bring more jobs and careers, and it will help lower the unemployment rate in Lansing!”

Guillermo Lopez: ”On the medical marijuana issue, Lansing needs to honor the will of the people of Michigan in a way that benefits both those who need this medical marijuana and the community at large… I would support working with our elected and state officials to craft the Lansing licensing requirements. One thing is for sure, Lansing has far too many dispensaries at this time.”

Michael Ruddock: ”I think we should be regulating the quality of dispensaries in Lansing, not the the number. We want to create safe environments for community members, dispensary staff and patients… while creating strongly regulated and safe environments for kids, patients and neighborhoods.”

Yanice Jackson: “I believe there should be accountability when it comes to being able to open a medical marijuana dispensary… I do not believe patients who need medical marijuana should be criminalized for using a product that helps with their medical condition. We may want to explore keeping the shops in particular areas.”

Evelyn Pech-Vazquez: ”Regulations are necessary to insure safety. I don’t believe it is necessary to have these businesses in residential areas. Monitoring is harder in residential areas and homebuyers may be deterred from investing in areas where providers are visibly plentiful.”

Thomas J. Harris Jr.: ”We have to play the waiting game with our legislators. Once they have pulled their heads out their asses, we as a city can implement our plans in accordance with state regulations.”

Alexander Rusek: ”The spread of medical marijuana dispensaries has overtaken our primary business corridors and neighborhoods…  I believe that the city should wait until the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs enacts the statewide rules… before spending more time on revision after revision of a proposed city ordinance.”

Kyle Bowman: ”Federal law precludes marijuana businesses from using banks. Marijuana advocates have high expectations for tax revenue, yet without a clear way to track transactions to collect revenue. We need tough but fair regulations locally, and federal changes to marijuana law to permit marijuana business to use banks.”

Kathie Dunbar: ”I support reasonable regulations that protect public health and wellness… With regard to commercial establishments, I support licensing and regulations that ensure safe access to safe medication. This includes product testing, labeling with source codes, security plans, etc. Given there is support for a cap on the number of dispensaries, I cannot support financial criteria (minimum liquid assets, surety bonds) that favor large corporations and may disqualify smaller, local operators.”

Peter Spadafore: ”We must develop a regulatory and enforcement action plan that guarantees best practices and patient and public safety. I remain open to input, but we must work to address the concerns of the critics and advocates alike.”

Christopher Jackson: ”I believe that we need to see what the state legislature and our state’s populace are going to do in the next year before creating any new regulations, including changes to zoning ordinances. With the very real prospect of recreational marijuana use being legalized in Michigan, now is not the time to waste our limited time and resources on an issue that could soon be moot.”


POSITION: 2nd Ward Council Member (LINK to article)

Candidates response:

Jeremy Garza: ”We need more regulation of dispensaries in the city, because there are far too many pot shops – especially on the South Side. We should regulate marijuana dispensaries like we do liquor stores.”

Julee Rodocker: ”I support Lansing patients having safe and convenient access to medical marijuana. However, we have vastly more dispensaries than what we need. This has negatively branded Lansing… Regulation is necessary… Neither medical nor recreational marijuana should become our main economic driver as it has too many consequences.”

Jaron Green: ”While I do support medical marijuana usage for those who require it, like anything else, I believe boundaries are important. I don’t know what those boundaries would look like exactly yet, though.”

Tina Houghton: ”I fully support regulations that provide patients with safe and affordable access to medical marijuana. I also support regulations that allow for the creation of jobs while keeping the presence of the industry from causing any public harm.”

Jim DeLine​​​​​​​​​​​​​​: ”Marijuana, whether for medicinal or recreational use, is a substance like alcoholic beverages and prescription medication that needs reasonable regulation and licensing. The use of zoning as the primary instrument for this is the wrong approach. The number of licenses issued needs to be limited with neighborhood concerns addressed and, very importantly, consumer protections in place for marijuana users.”


POSITION: 4th Ward Council Member (LINK to article)

Candidates response:

Brian T. Jackson: ”Generally, I support a path to legalization… More damage is done to our community from alcohol than marijuana and the laws should reflect that… Carefully crafted regulations are needed to keep people safe, and neighborhoods in-tact.  I personally do not have any issue with the amount of dispensaries in Lansing, however, as the 4th Ward representative, I may support a cap on the amount because many constituents want that.”

Kathi Ann Raffone: ”Again, how about a little common sense! It’s a DRUG! Of course there must be regulations! Kids can’t even get an aspirin at school without all kinds of paperwork. Geez!”

Larry Hutchinson: ”I think we need to stop stigmatizing weed smokers.  Most of whom are law abiding citizens. We have bigger fish to fry, besides Americans smoking pot.”

Jason Durham: ”Regulated and taxed commercial cannabis in Lansing would fund our schools, fix our roads, healthcare, pensions, community service and not raise taxes nor have to take the money from somewhere else. Seems sensible to me.”

Amanda Bernes: ”I am in favor of regulations that ensure safety of medication for our residents… An open and transparent process involving communities and neighborhood associations seems ideal in helping to identify good solutions for the business owners as well as our individual residents and neighborhoods.”

James M. McClurken: ”Marijuana sales and consumption are a fact of life in Lansing… No (Council) member I have spoken with wishes to stop the sale or use of marijuana but they and their constituents want the placement of pot shops near parks, schools, and churches to stop. I agree with their efforts and will cooperate with their regulatory efforts.”

Elvin Caldwell: ”I strongly advocate patients have access to the care they need. I also believe that medical marijuana provides pain relief options that can help to curb the prominent opioid epidemic here in Ingham County and Lansing.”

Source: The Social Revolution

Rick Thompson
About Rick Thompson 96 Articles
Current member of the Boards of Directors of: Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee (MILegalize), Michigan NORML; founding member, Michigan ASA, Public Relations Director, Michigan Association of Compassion Centers (defunct)