WARREN — After 14 months of costly litigation, a collection of lawsuits over medical marijuana dispensary licensing in Warren could be coming to an end.
A decision on a proposed settlement and consent judgment is now up to the Warren City Council, and council members said earlier this month that they wanted to hear from residents and business owners ahead of their final consideration, which could come as soon as a Nov. 24 meeting.
Agreement to the settlement would mean the approval of a total of 28 dispensary licenses in the city. The city’s governing ordinance originally limited the number to 10. It was later amended to 15.
On Nov. 6, attorney Andrea Pike, representing the city and several named individual parties, and attorney Jeffrey Schroder, the City Council’s own legal counsel, recommended accepting the proposed settlement and consent judgement to end 11 separate lawsuits that were consolidated into one case before Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Carl Marlinga.
The lawsuits were filed in 2019 after Warren’s Medical Marihuana Review Committee recommended awarding a set of 15 marijuana provisioning center licenses from a field of dozens of applicants. That recommendation was ultimately approved by the former Warren City Council at its final meeting before the 2019 city election, after which all but one of the members, Council member Ronald Papandrea, left office. Papandrea and former City Council members Cecil St. Pierre, Robert Boccomino and Steven Warner sat on the review committee, along with former Public Service Director Richard Sabaugh and City Attorney Ethan Vinson.
The city’s licensing process became mired in controversy, however, and the licenses were eventually voided by Marlinga, who ruled that the review committee had violated the Open Meetings Act.
A group of 16 entities that were denied