Residents express varied views on medical marijuana

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By Isabella Shaya
Meridian Times staff writer

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP–As medical marijuana remains a hot topic in Michigan, the Meridian Township Board of Trustees discussed how marijuana might fit into the township’s future.

Residents at the Jan. 15 meeting addressed a draft ordinance submitted to the board that proposes not allowing marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of places where families and children gather, such as schools, parks and libraries.

Andria Ditschman, an attorney with the Hubbard Law Firm, 5801 W. Michigan Ave., in Lansing, spoke about medical marijuana regulations and provided facts to make sure everyone was on the same page.

The reason the board is looking at regulating medical marijuana is because the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act does not fully address such things as dispensaries or cooperatives, but restrictions can be made under the township board’s direction, Ditschman said.

During public comments, community members expressed different opinions about regulating medical marijuana.

Meridian Township resident Niel Bowlby said people with licenses to use and grow marijuana in their own homes should not have to face more restrictions.

“Caregivers and patients have a private relationship,” Bowlby said. “As long as that relationship is not affecting other people or impacting their health and safety, you don’t really need to make (restrictions).”

A Meridian Township resident said she supports an ordinance that would keep dispensaries far from children, especially from places where children are not watched as frequently.

Ditschman said the board’s first job is to think about whether it feels the need to regulate medical marijuana in the township.

“I would suggest that when you do that, that we don’t over regulate, that we look at what it is that we want to do — are we trying to be proactive?” Ditschman said.

She said there are many options for the board to consider when it comes to regulating marijuana, which could mean setting requirements on the number of plants in one location or limiting laws for dispensaries.

Township Treasurer Julie Brixie said she would like to discuss reasonable limitations on marijuana, such as restricting the number of caregivers in one apartment complex.

“I’m interested in us protecting the quality of life that we have here,” Brixie said. “I find that the dispensaries are not something that I think fit into the quality of life that our residents expect and the way they expect our community to look.”

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