MI: Marijuana Ordinance Goes Back To City Hall For Review


Lansing – After five completed drafts, city officials are once again set to meet at City Hall to determine where a proposed medical marijuana ordinance stands and how it could eventually be enforced.

City Council’s Committee on Public Safety and City Attorney Jim Smiertka are expected to meet 2:30 p.m. Friday to review a sixth draft of the proposed ordinance. The meeting on the 10th floor of City Hall will be open to the public.

If the committee finalizes changes to a sixth draft, then it could send the ordinance to Lansing’s eight-member Planning Board for review at its Sept. 6 meeting. Approval by that board could set in motion approval of the ordinance by Council’s full eight-member body by the end of November. Enforcement of an ordinance could begin on or before Dec. 1, according language written in the ordinance’s latest draft.

On Friday, committee members are expected to review maps created by the city’s Planning & Neighborhood Development Department that show where current medical marijuana establishments are located and where they would be allowed under zoning regulations called for in the proposed ordinance.

Robin Schneider, a legislative liaison for the National Patients Rights Association, said Wednesday she’s pleased with the progress Lansing officials have made with their ordinance. She is, however, hesitant to support proposed city regulations that could unintentionally allow poorly operated establishments to stay open.

“From a patient care standpoint we want the city to determine who is going to stay and who’s going to go based on a merit-based system rather than zoning regulations that are just going to thin out the numbers,” Schneider said.

Schneider has helped cities like Detroit, Ann Arbor and Jackson craft their medical marijuana ordinances. It’s not too late for Lansing to consider a cap on establishments that could protect the city from unnecessary market saturation, potential public nuisance issues and problems patients could have obtaining quality care, she said.

The city currently doesn’t have a cap on establishments and hasn’t confirmed how many currently operate, though the number appears to be approximately 55. A city-wide moratorium for the opening of new establishments went into effect May 12 and is backed by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Virg Bernero.

If a proposed Lansing ordinance is presented to full council’s for a vote, there could be plenty of debate about zoning regulations. Council’s public safety committee and the City Attorney’s Office are still deciding for the latest draft whether medical marijuana establishments should be allowed no less than 1,000 feet or 500 feet away from schools, churches, daycare centers, substances abuse prevention services, rehabilitation centers, treatment centers and other related facilities.

First Ward Council Member Jody Washington said Wednesday she would vote against an ordinance that allows establishments to be 500 feet from areas the city deems worthy of protection like schools and churches. Washington would support the 1,000 feet rule, but also wishes the ordinance would demand that establishments be at least 1,000 feet from from each other.

“At the end of the day, we don’t have to allow them at all,” Washington said of establishments.

Lansing’s establishments have had to operate at their own peril since Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act was established in 2008. Medical marijuana establishments are defined under Lansing’s proposed ordinance as any medical marijuana provisioning centers (also known as a dispensaries), caregiver centers, grower facilities, processor facilities and safety compliance facilities.

These establishments are technically illegal in the state because the act only allows use of marijuana for medical reasons by persons who have been authorized by a physician to hold a state-issued medical marijuana card. State-qualified caregivers are also covered under this state law if they provide medical marijuana to card holding patients.

If Lansing’s ordinance is passed, all medical marijuana establishments would be required to obtain a license from the city through the City Clerk’s Office. The city currently doesn’t require licenses for establishments. The proposed ordinance doesn’t set a cap on the number of establishments, but has licensing standards that could limit the number open.

City officials appear to be doing the best they can to create legislation that can stand legally during an often confusing and complicated time for medical marijuana policies at the state and local levels, Schneider said.

““Every time there’s a new court case, the law changes very suddenly and everyone has to adapt to that,” Schneider said.

According to the fifth draft reviewed last week, each application for a license would require a $5,000 fee. If an application is denied, the applicant would get $2,500 returned. If a license is issued, the first annual fee would be $5,000 with an additional $5,000 fee each year.

The latest draft mentions a requirement for a license applicant to have no less than $25,000 in “immediately available funds.”

Another addition was the requirement for an applicant to show proof an an insurance policy in the amount of at least $1 million for property damage, $1 million for injury to one person and $2 million for injury to two or more people resulting from the same occurrence.

If the ordinance is approved, a seven-member medical marijuana commission appointed by Bernero could include residents representing each of the city’s four wards, a patient advocate and two business experts from the city.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Marijuana Ordinance Goes Back To City Hall For Review
Author: Eric Lacy
Contact: 1-517-377-1000
Photo Credit: Julia Nagy
Website: Lansing State Journal