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What is Council Smoking?

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The medical marijuana ordinance that the Lansing City Council passed Tuesday is an outrageous infringement on the rights of dispensary owners and an insult to voters. And the atmosphere in which it was passed reeks of a witch-hunt.

The Council had plenty of time to fashion a reasonable ordinance since the imposition of a moratorium on new dispensaries last December. But with Friday's expiration of the moratorium looming, the Council desperately pushed through an ordinance that will no doubt result in a well-deserved lawsuit against it.

At the heart of the ordinance is a mean-spirited effort led by Councilwoman Carol Wood to shut down the dispensaries on Michigan Avenue. The ordinance bans dispensaries from being within 1,000 feet of churches, schools, playgrounds, substance abuse centers and even each other. In essence, as our story today reports, the ordinance will force all 11 dispensaries on Michigan Avenue to move or close. Wood and crew might as well have said they couldn't be within 1,000 feet of manholes.

Wood has made no secret of her disgust with dispensaries on Michigan Avenue, putting her out of step with Lansing voters, who along with an overwhelming majority of Michiganians approved of medical marijuana in a 2008 vote. Wood ended up voting against the overly restrictive ordinance – but only because it wasn't restrictive enough. Wood, who has sought to impede progress in Lansing on a number of fronts over the years, is up for re-election this year. It's time for voters to finish the job they started two years ago when they rejected her bid for mayor by a wide margin.

Wood's malicious efforts were aided by an unlikely pair, Joan Nelson and Jim Herbert. Nelson, who has achieved much for the east side as the executive director of the Allen Neighborhood Center, found common ground with Herbert, the chairman and CEO of Neogen, in demanding a much stiffer ordinance than Council appeared headed toward passing two weeks ago. She has damaged her admirable record of working for people of limited means, many of whom substitute medical marijuana for the prescription drugs they cannot readily obtain. Moreover, she aligned herself with people who made odious comparisons of dispensaries to the X-rated shops that were on Michigan Avenue into the early 1990s.

Herbert was one of those people. Besides drudging up the porn stores, he made a ridiculous claim that in his home on Marshall Street he could hear noisy crowds in front of dispensaries on Michigan Avenue. And of medical marijuana users, he said: "I'm not saying anything about the character of the people in this for profit. But I do see what their clientele looks like." He called the dispensaries "embarrassing" when he showed Lansing to European guests. Is he going to be more proud of the city when those businesses revert to the empty storefronts virtually all of them recently were?

Fortunately, the fight over this ordinance isn't done. The dispensary owners may sue now or wait a year and force the city to sue them when they refuse to close. In the meanwhile, they need to organize themselves as the potent force they can be in this election season so that voters can have the final say.

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News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: lansingcitypulse.com
Author: City Pulse
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: City Pulse
Website: What is Council smoking?
 
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