City Should Go Slow On Marijuana Rules

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Jim Finnel

Cannabis Warrior - News Moderator
Lansing city officials appear to be taking a cautious approach to regulating a new medical marijuana dispensary in Old Town. City Attorney Brigham Smith may have a draft ordinance for the City Council to look at on Tuesday.

The city should go slow - even slower than it is now.

The first step isn't to decide how to regulate such dispensaries, but to establish whether a need for additional regulation actually exists. And "fears" or "concerns" that something might happen do not qualify as justification for rushed regulatory action.

To begin with, the state's treatment of such dispensaries is a matter of some dispute.

The ballot measure that voters approved in 2008 to allow medical marijuana use does not mention the creation of dispensaries, either to approve them or ban them.

Dispensaries have sprouted up in California, a pro-medical marijuana state. However, there are legal disputes over how those dispensaries operate - for example whether they can actually sell marijuana to their members.

Michigan allows for a registered patient to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. The patient may grow the plant himself or obtain it from a caregiver. A caregiver may grow for up to five patients. (The law left it an open question as to how patients or caregivers were supposed to obtain the initial supplies to grow the plants.)

This would seem to point toward a restricted one-on-one personal relationship between a patient and a caregiver. Can a storefront dispensary operate in accordance with state law?

It seems prudent to have the courts work out that question before cities such as Lansing move to create new regulations that very well may be moot if dispensaries don't pass state muster.

If it becomes clear that dispensaries are here to stay, the next step for Lansing is to consider whether existing rules are sufficient.

Some such as Councilwoman Carol Wood argue for treating a dispensary like a liquor store. A more reasonable parallel, though, is a pharmacy. It dispenses substances for medical uses, substances which also can be abused in illegal ways.

And like it or not, by the decision of the voters, Michigan grants a medical use for marijuana, a substance that's illegal for non-medical uses.

So, if marijuana dispensaries are deemed legal under state law, and if the city of Lansing determines that its existing zoning rules that apply to commercial pharmacies are insufficient to properly manage marijuana dispensaries, then - and only then - should the council start looking to add new rules to Lansing's book.


NewsHawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: lansingstatejournal.com
Author: An LSJ editorial
Copyright: 2010 Lansing State Journal
Contact: Lansing State Journal
Website: City should go slow on marijuana rules | lansingstatejournal.com | Lansing State Journal

• Thanks to MedicalNeed for submitting this article