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Battle Creek Likely to Extend Medical Marijuana Moratorium

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The Battle Creek City Commission next week likely will extend a moratorium regulating distribution of medical marijuana.

At least six of the commissioners favor an 11-month delay before tackling implementation of the 2008 Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

The decision will come within days of Wednesday's discussion of the law presented by Kenneth Stecker of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan. The discussion was organized by the Substance Abuse Council.

He told about 50 members of law enforcement, the courts, and city, township and county officials from across Calhoun County that several provisions of the law remain vague and questions are pending in courts across the state.

Stecker told the group issues yet to be decided include what defines a marijuana plant and a locked facility for keeping the plants and even what medical conditions qualify for a medical marijuana card.

"We are best off taking a sit-and-wait approach, that is what I took it to mean," Battle Creek City Ward 3 Commissioner Laurie Sullivan said after the meeting. "I was frustrated with waiting because there will always be an appeals process. At one point do we stop waiting for appeals? We are not elected to sit back and wait, we should be proactive."

Sullivan said she supports the state law but reluctantly supports the moratorium on any local ordinance.

"I question the length more than that the extension is needed," she said. "It just seems very vague and that is everyone's frustration. Everyone is unhappy with it. Everyone is frustrated by the way it was worded. There are so many vague definitions."

At-large Battle Creek commissioner Diane Thompson also said after the meeting she favors continuing the commission's moratorium.

"It gives the city time to watch what the courts do," she said. "It buys us some time so we can put in place some processes and approvals that compliment what the state law is. I think the moratorium buys us some time."

Thompson noted that Stecker's presentation showed that a majority of those who voted in every county in Michigan favored the medical marijuana law in the 2008 ballot initiative. But she said the law's provisions are not clearly defined.

"He showed how many different areas are vague and unclear and that makes it challenging for municipalities," she said.

Marshall Police Chief James Schwartz said Stecker's presentation was one of many he had heard on the subject and "the confusion is until we get some legislation and some direction. This will be a hot potato until we get some kind of direction."

Schwartz said one problem area is the conflict with the federal government, which views marijuana possession as a crime, while possession in Michigan by someone with a medical marijuana card is legal.

Marshall also had delayed any decision on regulating the use and distribution of the drug but Schwartz said the city council likely will decide in July a next step, which may be extending a moratorium on regulations.

"It is difficult because the law is vague but just to ignore it and not do anything is wrong.

"It is a law passed by the voters and we have to respect that," Schwartz said. "But to what level can we allow it without infringing on others?"

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: battlecreekenquirer.com
Author: Trace Christenson
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Copyright: battlecreekenquirer.com
Website: Battle Creek likely to extend medical marijuana moratorium
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