By Devyne Lloyd
Lansing Star staff writer
Although medical marijuana became legal in Michigan during the November elections of 2008, many cities have waited to enact local legislation regulating its use. On June 27, 2011 Lansing City Council passed an ordinance concerning medical marijuana.
Because there was a long-standing hold on passing medical marijuana legislation, ordinance #1168 was written “to repeal Chapter 876 of the Lansing codified ordinances, which establishes a moratorium on the licensing of medical marihuana establishments,” according to the ordinance.
Not everyone is excited about the new ordinance. Council woman Carol Wood voted against the ordinance during the meeting. “I did not support the ordinance the way it was written,” said Wood in an interview.
Wood said there were two main reasons as to why she opposed the ordinance as written: a stronger background check for those wanting to open a dispensary and editing the grandfather clause of the ordinance.
According to Wood, potential dispensary owners should have a record completely clean of any drug felonies. However, the ordinance states there should be no felonies within the past seven years. “We should have mirrored other states’ tough background checks,” said Wood.
According to the ordinance, dispensaries are allowed in the F and F-1 districts and can be housed in:
(a) Any principal use permitted in an E-2 Local Shopping District;
(b) Any principal use permitted in a D-1 Professional Office District;
c) A comparison retail store;
(d) A private club, fraternal organization or lodge hall;
(e) A restaurant, bar or tavern;
(f) A fully enclosed theater, assembly hall or concert hall;
(g) A hotel or motel;
(h) An off-street parking facility;
(i) A public park and playground, except those regulated by special conditions pursuant to Section 1256.03(g), (h) and (i);
(j) Any other use which, by the decision of the Planning Board, is similar to the principally permitted uses set forth in this section; and
(k) An accessory structure which is customarily incidental to any of the uses permitted by this section.
According to the city’s Zoning and Planning committee, F and F-1 districts are intended for general retail commercial uses such as theaters and hotels. The Frandor shopping area, for instance, is an excellent example of an F-1 district.
Dispensaries will also be allowed in G-2 wholesale districts, which are usually intended for the assembly, packaging and storing of items for wholesale and in H Light Industrial districts, usually intended for the manufacture of pre-processed goods such as cosmetics and baked goods.
One amendment, proposed by council member Tina Houghton, to eliminate the time on grandfathering older clinics up to the new standards was defeated in committee with a four-to-four tie vote.
Another amendment, also proposed by Houghton, to change grandfathering by one year or until the lease is over, whichever comes is later, was also failed by a four-to-four tie vote. Council member Jessica Yorko proposed a similar amendment, changing “later” to “sooner”, but was similarly defeated.
Although she did not support the way the bill as written, Wood supports the intent of the ordinance. “It’s good enforcement and it will benefit patients using dispensaries and the general public,” she said.
The ordinance was passed with a five-to-three vote. A motion led by Yorko to put the ordinance in effect immediately received strong support from the council with a seven-to-one vote.