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Holland Township Sued by Medical Marijuana Dispensary

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HOLLAND TOWNSHIP - Claiming board members met illegally to discuss a medical marijuana ordinance that would close their storefront business, Patient Solutions LLC Monday filed suit in Ottawa County Circuit Court to set aside the regulation passed last week.

The suit names Holland Township, its board of trustees and township Manager Don Komejan as defendants and seeks damages over $25,000 in addition to striking down the marijuana guideline, which restricts growing and distribution to residential settings.

"They pushed the ordinance through in disregard to the Open Meetings Act which is designed to protect the public from government bodies from meeting in secret behind closed doors and making decisions that affect people," said Attorney Daniel Grow, who represents the Holland Township business that provides medical marijuana to qualified patients.

Monica Bakker, community outreach director for Patient Solutions, said she overheard members of the board after the Mar. 3 meeting was adjourned discussing a Planning Commission request to form a subcommittee of commissioners and board members to review a draft of the ordinance.

"I overheard them discussing the committee request and deciding to direct the Planning Commission to pass the ordinance and that's exactly how it played out," said Bakker, who offered photocopies of notes she said she made on the board discussion.

Named in the suit as defendants with Komejan are Township Superintendent Terry Nienhuis, Clerk Michael Dalman and trustees Vince Bush, Chris Eaton, Arlan Hossink, Norman Nykamp and Russell Te Slaa.

Nienhuis had previously denied the allegation at the May 5 board meeting when Bakker threatened the board with a lawsuit if the ordinance were passed. After that meeting Nienhuis stated, "It didn't occur."

Monday, Nienhuis declined to comment on the legal action stating, "we are advised by our legal council once litigation is filed not to make comment." Komejan also declined comment on the suit.

Approved May 19 by a vote of 6 to 0, the ordinance allows only residential growing and dispensing of the drug by caregivers. It does not permit retail storefront dispensaries like Patient Solutions, which opened last fall along Eighth Street near U.S. 31.

The new ordinance requires caregivers who grow marijuana must license the growing location address with the township but not their name. Annual inspections of the facilities are required along with inspection fees of $100 to $150.

Bakker said the ordinance was directly aimed at putting the dispensary out of business even though it was approved by the township zoning administrator to open as a business in 2010 and had operated without complaints since opening in August.

"They had two years since use of medical marijuana was approved by voters to set up regulations, but only started to draft an ordinance after we opened with township approval," Bakker said.

Voters passed the medical marijuana legislation in 2008, allowing caregivers to grow up to 12 plants for each patient and possess up to 2.5 ounces per patient.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: mlive.com
Author: Myron Kukla
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Michigan Live LLC
Website: Holland Township sued by medical marijuana dispensary, alleging Open Meetings Act violation
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