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Union Township Marijuana Laws Near Approval

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Union Township planners Wednesday recommended the township board adopt an ordinance to license medical marijuana-related businesses, such as dispensaries and growing operations.

The proposed licensing ordinance, along with a zoning law to regulate the placement and operation of medical marijuana-related businesses, is expected to come before the township board next week.

"There will be a chance for public input at the township board level," said township zoning administrator Woody Woodruff.

Under the proposed licensing law, regulated facilities would be inspected and licensed. Licenses would be issued by the zoning administrator, and decisions to revoke licenses could be appealed to the township manager, said attorney Andria M. Ditschman of the Lansing-based Hubbard Law Firm, who has been working with the township on its medical marijuana laws.

She said licensing law would require 24-hour security at any facility with medical marijuana on site; it would be up to the operator, working with the township, to determine the best way to accomplish that.

"We'll be looking for results," Woodruff said.

Licenses for the facilities would be granted for one year, and wouldn't be transferrable.

Ditschman said lower courts have differed on the legality of dispensaries under Michigan medical marijuana law. A court in Alpena County found they were nuisances and could be banned; a court in Isabella County found they were not nuisances.

Meanwhile, she said, federal drug enforcement officials have cautioned state leaders that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, no matter how it's used.

She said she expects decisions later this year from the Michigan Court of Appeals over the legality of dispensaries, and wouldn't be surprised if the Michigan Supreme Court takes up the issue.

"If the Court of Appeals says dispensaries are not legal," she said, "you won't be handing out any more licenses."

She pointed out that dispensaries aren't the only kind of medical marijuana-related businesses.

"There's still the issue of growing facilities," she said. "You having an ordinance does not make it legal if it turns out to be illegal under state law."

The township board is expected to see both the zoning law and the licensing law introduced as early as next week, with the laws up for approval in early July.

Meanwhile, the county planning commission asked Union Township to go slow with its medical marijuana-related business regulation. The county, which has zoning authority in nine townships that don't have their own zoning laws, has just begun looking at the issue.

The city of Mt. Pleasant, meanwhile, has taken no action. Mayor Bruce Kilmer said earlier the city was waiting for a decision from the appeals court in the Isabella County case, which involves a dispensary in the city, before looking at how to regulate.

Township planning commission members said Union Township's process was too far along to derail.

"If we were at the start phase, we could go back to the beginning," said planning commissioner Stan Shingles. "This has been very thoughtful, very professional, and we potentially have an ordinance that will help us."

Township Supervisor John Barker said the township would happily share the results of its research and its experience in drafting the laws with other governments as they move to regulate the businesses.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: themorningsun.com
Author: Mark Ranzenberger
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: The Morning Sun
Website: Union Township marijuana laws near approval
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