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Council Votes for Marijuana Ordinance

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The East Lansing City Council voted to approve an ordinance regulating commercial medical marijuana operations within the city limits at its Tuesday meeting.

Passing with a 4-1 vote, council approved a medical marijuana ordinance allowing for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within primarily office B4 zoning districts in the city.

Councilmember Nathan Triplett said the ordinance is not perfect but allows for change and is the best decision for the city at this point in time.

"We've arrived at a solution that is admittedly imperfect, but workable for the city of East Lansing," Triplett said. "I for one am prepared to vote on this ordinance this evening."

East Lansing Mayor Vic Loomis voted against the ordinance and said he believed the document underestimated the impact dispensaries would have on surrounding businesses. He said he believed the council should feel no pressure to enact an ordinance before commercial distribution of medical marijuana can be regulated in a more structured setting.

"I think whatever we do has to be mindful for the businesses surrounding these (dispensaries)," Loomis said. "We have more work to do."

Council has been discussing medical marijuana ordinances since last summer. Since then, council had narrowed the possible ordinances down from three to the ordinance passed Tuesday.

East Lansing's Planning and Zoning Administrator Darcy Schmitt said the purpose of dispensaries being in the primarily office district was because of a general consensus that retail operations were undesirable.

"I think we've concluded as a council that we don't want this type of business to be a storefront," Schmitt said.

Assistant City Attorney Tom Yeadon said the ordinance does not regulate home-based operation but does regulate the commercial aspects of medical marijuana.

"We're regulating the business aspect of it (with the substitute ordinance)," Yeadon said.

Many residents living in East Lansing neighborhoods felt the B4 districts are not the right choice for medical marijuana operations, East Lansing resident Don Power said. He said the basis of the ordinance was other zoning districts should be considered.

"In our view, you have the framework to work within, but you're not done," Power said. "Let us not make (the substitute ordinance) too restrictive, but let's make it something that's functional."

Power said before council's vote that city officials should take more time to view and consider more options before making a final decision.

"We're trying to do something so we can at least talk about it," he said.

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Source: statenews.com
Author: Lauren Gibbons
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Copyright: The State News
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