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Attorney Outlines Medical Pot Options

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
About 25 people attended a special meeting of the Village of Suttons Bay Planning Commission last week to hear an attorney present a briefing titled "Options for Zoning Regulations concerning Medical Marijuana."

Attorney Bryan Graham of Antrim County has been working for several years for the village, Suttons Bay Township and numerous other municipal entities in northwestern lower Michigan.

Suttons Bay's staff planner, Kathy Egan, said nearly all of the people who attended the one-hour briefing on March 16 were planning commissioners from Suttons Bay, Bingham and Leland townships, as well as the Village of Suttons Bay.

According to a written version of Graham's presentation, the attorney sought to outline options for zoning regulations affecting medical marijuana sales. Michigan voters approved a referendum to legalize medical marijuana in 2008.

"Municipalities throughout Michigan are now beginning to address medical marijuana through zoning, or land use, regulations," Graham wrote. "Because medical marijuana is new, it is not always possible to provide specific answers to the many questions that may be raised. It will take a few years for cases in Michigan to make their way through the court system, so that some of these questions can be answered. "In the meantime," Graham continued, "a municipality can only do its best in crafting regulations that best suit the individual needs and desires of that municipality."

Earlier this month, the Suttons Bay Village Council, the Bingham Township Board, and the Suttons Bay Township Board directed their respective planning commissions to draft zoning ordinance language concerning medical marijuana. All of those municipalities, plus Leelanau and Elmwood townships, have adopted temporary moratoriums banning the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries within their jurisdiction until zoning amendments can be adopted.

At least one medical marijuana business has already opened in Leelanau County. However, Elmwood Township is challenging that business because it failed to obtain a "business permit" prior to opening.

According to Graham, municipalities have the option of regulating medical marijuana or banning it - at a possible high legal cost. Municipalities with limited resources should not try to prohibit medical marijuana because that option would likely "invite an expensive and protracted legal challenge," he wrote.

Graham added that municipalites can consider whether to regulate medical marijuana in concentrated or dispersed land use patterns. A concentrated pattern would allow marijuana "care facilities" only in limited areas of the municipality. A dispersed pattern would likely make such facilities less noticeable by spreading them throughout all districts.

Municipal planners must also consider what other uses will be allowed at medical marijuana facilities, Graham wrote. He said that regulations covering the sale of medical marijuana paraphanalia, and the establishment of venues for people to gather and ingest the drug may also be considered.

In addition, local governments drafting zoning ordinance amendments must consider whether to allow medical marijuana facilities by "special permit" or "by right." Special permits, Graham said, require wide public notice, while allowing medical marijuana facilities without a special permit would allow such facilities to open in a "less conspicuous" fashion.

Egan said the Village of Suttons Bay, Suttons Bay and Bingham township planning commissions are all slated to continue work on zoning ordinance amendments related to medical marijuana at their upcoming meetings in April.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Leelanau Enterprise (Lake Leelanau, MI)
Copyright: 2011 Leelanau Enterprise
Contact: info@leelanaunews.com
Website: February 22, 2018 | www.leelanaunews.com | Leelanau Enterprise
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