Macomb TownshipAugust 10, 2012
Township forced to revisit medical marijuana ordinance
By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer
The Board of Trustees placed a 120-day moratorium on the use and possession of medical marijuana Aug. 8 after a recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision essentially stripped the township and other communities’ ban on the substance.
The approval for the moratorium, which acts as a stopgap while the board reviews its legal ability to properly zone for medical marijuana vending, was unanimous.
“There’s a moratorium on it so that we can’t consider (potential medical-marijuana vendors) while the thing’s being written,” said Township Clerk Michael Koehs. “We don’t want anybody running in here and doing something before we get a chance to do anything.”
“We’ve got to do something otherwise they’re going to be rampant,” added Supervisor Mark Grabow.
The township was one of several communities across the state to pass a complete ban on medical marijuana following the passage of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act in 2008.
The communities that did so argued that the bans were based on federal law, which still considers marijuana illegal even as more states legalize it for medicinal purposes.
Wyoming City, in Kent County, approved its medical marijuana ordinance in November 2010 and was subsequently sued. A Kent County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the city, saying federal law preempts state law.
But on July 31, the Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s decision, saying the ordinance is “void and unenforceable to the extent that it purports to sanction the medical use of marijuana in conformity with the (Michigan Medical Marijuana Act),” the decision said.
The decision also said the state’s law does not interfere with federal enforcement.
“The effect of that is that the township does not have a medical marijuana ordinance,” Larry Dloski, the township’s legal counsel said. “So I’m recommending the township reinstate its moratorium on the use and possession of medical marijuana for 120 days until the township can implement an ordinance.”
Koehs in a later interview said the township officials will be examining their legal options. He said when the state’s medical marijuana act became law, it was written vaguely.
Court decisions since its passage have helped define what local communities can and cannot do.
The township will be examining those decisions and also looking at other communities’ medical marijuana ordinances in order to determine how it can best regulate the vending of medical marijuana.
He said as they prepare to change the ordinance over the next four months, they will hold public hearings on the matter.
“There will be plenty of time for these people to come in and say what they think we should do,” Koehs said.
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