Ann Arbor’s medical marijuana regulations headed to council for final approval just in time for 4/20
Ann Arbor's medical marijuana regulations would limit the number of dispensaries inside the city limits to no more than 20, at least for the first year.
Ryan J. Stanton
After more than three months of deliberations, the Ann Arbor City Council voted for the first time Monday night to move a proposed medical marijuana licensing ordinance past first reading.
The vote came unanimously after some final tweaking of the ordinance, which regulates dispensaries and cultivation facilities within the city limits.
The ordinance now moves on for final approval on April 19, which is a Tuesday — a deviation from the council's normal Monday meeting night. A proposed medical marijuana zoning ordinance also is expected to come back for final approval the same night.
It wasn't planned, but the expected final approval comes just in time for 4/20, a sort of countercultural cannabis holiday when marijuana advocates throughout the country light up in celebration and, in some places, participate in events advocating for decriminalization of pot.
The City Council took action Monday night to extend the city's moratorium on medical marijuana businesses through June 30, giving the council some leeway on making a final decision if it should need it. The moratorium has been in place since last August.
City officials estimate there are about 15 to 18 dispensaries in Ann Arbor. They think there could be a few that won't be allowed at their current locations under the zoning ordinance.
The licensing ordinance would have the city doling out a limited number of dispensary and cultivation facility licenses once the moratorium is lifted.
Operations that were up and running prior to the moratorium last August would have up to 60 days after the ordinance takes effect to submit an application for an annual license. No other applications would be accepted until 75 days after the ordinance takes effect.
The first year’s licenses would be capped at a number 10 percent higher than the licenses applied for in the first 60 days, but not more than 20 dispensaries and 10 cultivation facility licenses. So, if there really are 15 to 18 dispensaries in Ann Arbor, and all of them seek licenses, no more than two additional licenses would be available to new dispensaries.
Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, led the way Monday night as the council worked through a number of amendments to the licensing ordinance. Briere dropped her request for the city to adopt a non-disclosure policy on patient and caregiver information, noting that the reworked licensing ordinance doesn't involve the city collecting any personal information.
After some tweaking, the ordinance now states that a cultivation facility or dispensary must keep records of the caregivers from whom they receive marijuana in any form and must make the records available to the city upon request to promote health, safety or welfare or to otherwise verify compliance with the licensing ordinance.
Required labeling information, including coded patient and caregiver information, also must be kept and made available for inspection. Marijuana package labels must include the following:
- A unique alphanumeric identifier for the person to whom it is being delivered.
- A unique alphanumeric identifier for the cultivation source of the marijuana.
- Notice that the package contains marijuana.
- The date of delivery, weight, type of marijuana and dollar amount or other consideration being exchanged in the transaction.
- A certification that all marijuana in any form contained in the package was cultivated, manufactured and packaged in the state of Michigan.
- The name, address, email address and phone number of an authorized representative of the dispensary whom a patient can contact with any questions.
- The name, address, email address and phone number of at least one governmental or nonprofit organization that may be contacted by a patient who has concerns about substance abuse of drugs, including marijuana.
- A warning stating that the product is manufactured without any regulatory oversight for health or safety, and that there may be health risks associated with its use.
The council also tweaked the ordinance to state that license applicants must install signs in a visible location with the following statement in letters no less than an inch tall:
"The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act acknowledges that 'although federal law currently prohibits any use of marihuana except under very limited circumstances, states are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. The laws of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island and Washington do not penalize the medical use and cultivation of marihuana. Michigan joins in this effort for the health and wellness of its citizens.' See MCL 333.26422(c). If you have any questions or concerns please consult with your attorney."
The council voted in favor of an amendment proposed by Council Member Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward, to state that caregivers growing marijuana inside their own homes do not need licenses but may voluntarily register with the city by providing their home address.
"I don't know if anybody will choose to volunteer that information," Smith said, though she noted it could help make sure legitimate caregivers' homes aren't raided. "To avoid that, you could register. The police would know this was a caregiver's house."
The council also clarified duties of the proposed medical marijuana licensing board, which would be created through the ordinance. The licensing board would consist of one council member, one physician and three other Ann Arbor residents — all of whom would be appointed by the mayor. The board would review annually and recommend the licensing criteria, number of licenses, license fee structure, and approval of license applications.
"The board that you've established may want to look at the records to identify where this product is coming from," City Attorney Stephen Postema told council members, adding that could be to confirm that the marijuana is from Michigan or to investigate health complaints.
District Judge Daniel Kaup ruled today that the three medical marijuana dispensaries in Loveland suing the city and state because of a citywide ban have not proved they are entitled to an injunction allowing them to remain open.
Kaup said granting the injunction would be against the will of the voters and be a disservice to the public.
Attorneys representing the city of Loveland and state of Colorado presented closing arguments today, along with the plaintiffs' attorney, Rob Corry.
The defendants are Rocky Mountain Kind, Magic's Emporium and Colorado Canna Care, plus John and Jane Doe, medical marijuana patients. During Corry's closing argument, Kaup told him Amendment 20, which Colorado voters passed to legalize medical marijuana, does not apply to everyone.
Check back at LovelandConnection.com for more on this story.
Shouts of protest filled the streets of downtown Missoula on Saturday as medical marijuana advocates, angered by the raids of cannabis facilities across Montana last week, rallied in support of their right to use marijuana for medical purposes.
"DEA, go away!"
It was a line repeated over and over as more than a hundred people wielding signs that read "No Plant Left Behind," "We are not criminals" and "Feds Hands Off My Meds" marched from Caras Park to the Missoula County Courthouse and back. There were families, veterans, college students and medical marijuana caregivers. At times, a faint scent of marijuana drifted through the crowd.
Doug Chyatte, founder of Montanans for Responsible Legislation and one of the rally organizers, used a bullhorn to encourage people to "come out of the shadows and into the streets" - a message of standing up in support of medical marijuana.
The rally was in response to federal agents on Monday issuing 26 search warrants on medical marijuana shops and producers in a handful of cities across Montana, seizing cash and plants. The raids generated fear and anger in an industry that's under the microscope of state lawmakers working to regulate the industry.
Montana legalized the medical use of marijuana in 2004, and the number of cannabis patients and providers soared after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo in 2009 stating that the prosecution of medical marijuana programs in states where it's legal is not an effective use of the use of federal resources.
Dozens of medical marijuana caregivers destroyed their plants in a panic following last week's raids, said Chyatte, who called the raids a "political move" and a "scare tactic" - the most vocal medical cannabis distributors were the ones targeted, he said.
The rally aimed to send a message to state and federal officials that medical marijuana advocates are not backing down and they're not scared.
Drawing guns on people watering plants is wrong, said Katrina Farnum, of Garden Mother Herbs and an MRL member. "It's not a time to divide; it's a time to stand together," she said.
Chyatte referred to the raids as "a war that we didn't choose but a war that no doubt ended up at our front doors."
"I know many of you are angry," Chyatte said. "I'm angry, too. But today, we stand united ... Without embarrassment or shame, we will demand equal rights. This community has had enough of the hatred and bigotry."
Last week's raids coincided with state lawmakers in Helena taking executive action on House Speaker Mike Milburn's bill to repeal Montana's medical marijuana law passed as a referendum by voters in 2004. There are other bills circulating through the Legislature that would regulate the industry.
One of the places targeted last week was Montana Cannabis, which is where retiree Bob Wolf of the Plains area used to shop. Now, he has to search for another provider. That's one of the reasons he decided to join the rally on Saturday.
"Believe me, it's not dope," said Wolf, who says he suffers from spinal arthritis. "It's medicine."
Chyatte encouraged the crowd to come out about their medical marijuana use to family, friends and employers and register to vote. The rally generated a large number of honks from supporters driving by on Higgins and Broadway avenues.
MRL is calling for the resignation of Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir for testifying as a Missoula city representative in support of the bill to repeal Montana's medical marijuana law - a move that later drew criticism from Missoula City Council members. His testimony was "incredibly inappropriate," Chyatte said.
Subsequently, the City Council on Monday will vote on a resolution that would show the city's opposition to House Bill 161 to repeal the state's medical marijuana law. Currently the bill remains stuck in the Senate Judiciary committee on a tie vote.
Reporter Chelsi Moy can be reached at 523-5260 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marijuana legislation to be debated at State House today
Department of Health Announces Decision on Compassion Center Applicants
The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) today announces that 3 of the 18 applicants have been approved to apply for registration certificates to run a compassion center. The three applicant(s) selected are Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center, Inc.; Summit Medical Compassion Center; and The Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center.
“After a thorough and thoughtful review of all applications, HEALTH determined that these three applicant(s) were best able to offer safe, conveniently located options for patients currently enrolled in the medical marijuana program,” said Interim Director of Health Michael Fine. “ HEALTH is charged with protecting the health and safety of all Rhode Islanders. We will continue to work with the compassion centers and providers to assure good outcomes for patients.”
Before opening for business, a compassion center must be inspected by HEALTH staff and receive a certificate of occupancy from the respective municipality where it is located. In addition, all staff, board members and volunteers of each compassion center must be registered with HEALTH’s medical marijuana program. For the complete rules and regulations pertaining to compassion centers, visit http://sos.ri.gov/documents/archives/regdocs/released/pdf/DOH/5923.pdf
Health department delays medical marijuana center decision
PROVIDENCE BUSINESS NEWS 7 March 2011
PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Department of Health has delayed the decision to name the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary by one week.
The health department was slated to make the announcement this week but announced on Monday that its new interim director needed more time to review the applicants looking to open what state law coins "compassion centers."
In a news release, the department said that Interim Director Dr. Michael Fine has been on the job just one week and needs more time to “thoroughly review” the applications. The department also noted that Fine spent much of his first week in budget talks as Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee prepares to unveil his proposed budget on Tuesday.
“Health staff have been working diligently on the review of the 18 applications and we are dedicated to maintaining the highest integrity of the decision-making process,” Fine said in a statement. “This has been a challenging budget season requiring much of the department’s focus and energy. In order to make an informed decision about such a complex issue, I will need a few more days to finalize the department’s decision on compassion centers. We are firmly committed to making a decision by March 15.”
State law allows the department to approve the opening of at most three centers; however, health staff have repeatedly warned that the department could find none of the applicants qualified, as it did during the first round of applications last year.