By Devyne Lloyd
Entirely East Lansing Staff Writer
Although Michigan voters voted to allow medical marijuana in August of 2008, East Lansing City Council has done very little to regulate the dispensing of medical marijuana in the city.
Ordinance 1246, which requires a license for a primary caregiver or to open a dispensary, was passed as emergency legislation on Aug. 17, 2010.
Three proposed ordinances were presented to the council Sept. 21, 2010, however, council soon decided not to make any medical marijuana-related decisions or pass any medical marijuana legislation until February 2011.
The council claimed it wanted feedback from the community before it made any decisions. “They should just make a decision so there’s some kind of guidelines; legislation will add a bit of order to the situation,” said biological sciences junior Anitha Subramanian about the council’s refusal to make a decide.
Proposed Ordinance 1245A is designed to regulate registered caregivers (individuals who grow and sell marijuana to individuals with government-approved medical marijuana cards) and make caregiving an official home occupation.
If passed, caregivers would be allowed to conduct business in a single-family, detached dwelling at least 1,000 feet from a school in East Lansing’s R-A, R-1, R-2 and R-3 districts. The ordinance will also regulate operating hours and how many customers will be allowed on the premises at a time.
Proposed Ordinance 1245B is designed to keep individuals from opening a dispensary or a primary caregiver operation within the city limits of East Lansing. Caregivers would still be allowed to grow and sell to patients within the city limits, but they woul not be allowed to set up a permanent business. Of the three ordinances, this is the most restrictive and most likely to spark underground operations, according to the council.
Proposed Substitute Ordinance 1245C is designed to amend Proposed Ordinance 1245C, which would allow non-residential primary caregiver operations and dispensaries only in the B-3 City Center Commercial District. The substitute, however, changed the district from B-3 City Center Commercial District to the B-4 Business District. The B-4 district is non-residential and hosts many professional businesses, such as medical offices.
Some residents say that the proposed ordinances are too strict. “Why would they not let people have permanent establishments within the city limits? If people are going to have licenses, they should be able to sell wherever they want,” said social work freshman Ashley Triplett.
Other residents say the city council should do something before things get out of hand. “People are still going to sell, people are still going to buy; might as well pass it,” said hospitality business freshman Olivia Hagerman.
Council plans to make a decision on the three pieces of legislation at its 7:30 p.m. meeting on Feb 15. Residents are welcome to come and voice their opinions.