Mason City Council regulates medical marijuana dispensaries

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By Amanda Cowherd
Mason Times staff writer

Mason City Council members adopted an ordinance and a moratorium on regulating local medical marijuana dispensaries on Monday, March 17.

Ordinance 196 requires that marijuana dispensaries be licensed and regulated by the city. The moratorium pushes back any licensing 180 days.

Councilmembers were prompted to vote on the preventative measures after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the city of Wyoming couldn’t ban the use or growth of medical marijuana within its boundaries.

Mason City Attorney Dennis McGinty told the councilmembers that there were no regulations on marijuana dispensaries in Mason, prompting the discussion of Ordinance 196.

Mason City Attorney Dennis McGinty tells the councilmembers that there are no regulations on marijuana dispensaries in Mason, prompting the discussion of Ordinance 196.

“I feel that the moratorium gives us protection while we wait for the fluidity of legislation or the federal government to rule one way or another,” said Mayor Pro Tem Robin Naeyaert.

Naeyaert said the federal or state governments could pass marijuana regulation legislation soon—especially with elections coming up.

Police Chief John Stressman said he was not opposed to the ordinance and that he believes marijuana soon will be either legalized or handled mostly by pharmacies.

“This is a train coming down the tracks, and we’re never going to be able to stop it. So our stand now is that we will just have to live with what the will of the voter is and try to have some implements in place,” Stressman said.

The ordinance passed unanimously, while the 180-day moratorium resolution passed 5-1, with Councilman Jon Droscha notching the nay vote. Similar measurements were put into place in Mason in 2010 to 2012, until the general prohibition was named unlawful.

Naeyaert said she believes Mason is a prime location for marijuana dispensaries because it is close to Michigan State University’s campus and Lansing, but she doesn’t think small communities should have them.

Droscha said that any dispensaries should be at least 1,000 feet away from schools. A drug-free school zone policy is already in place, making specific amendments to the ordinance unnecessary.

Stressman said he couldn’t imagine the town swamped with dispensary requests. But Stressman has had experience dealing with people driving under the influence of marijuana.

Councilwoman Elaine Ferris said, “There is no warning label currently out on things like this. We’re trying to set it up for the safety of everybody else, as well as the safety of the people using it.”

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