Mason City Council and Planning Commission come up with resolutions for Medical Marijuana ordinance

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By Madelyn Scroggie
The Mason Times

Mason City Hall, home to the city council and planning commission's meetings regarding the medical marijuana ordinance.

Mason City Hall, home to the city council and planning commission’s meetings regarding the medical marijuana ordinance.

Mason, Mich. – The planning commission and city council decided to pass a resolution which will repeal the current outdated ordinance and refer to only state law rather than impose local regulation.

The current state law allows for citizens to obtain medical marijuana under the condition that the citizen is issued proper license and registration. Mason put the idea of an ordinance into consideration because they felt they needed more restriction locally.

“There were a number of things that the planning commission or even the community members wanted to regulate about this issue,” said Commissioner Anne Klein Barna, “but unfortunately or, fortunately, that was just not possible because it was against the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act to do so.”

After investigation of the issue they have decided not to develop a local ordinance to regulate medical marijuana within Mason as well as repeal the ordinance that they currently have in the books for regulating medical marijuana dispensaries.

“Our ordinance basically culminates into a document that essentially reflects the current state law,” said Planning Commission Chairperson David Haywood, “and really doesn’t do much more from that perspective. It essentially just mirrors the state law.”

The proposed ordinance is based on public hearings, research, studying other ordinance examples, studying case law, and legal advice from city attorney Tom Hitch.

Hitch has also confirmed that it would not be necessary to have an ordinance because local law enforcement would still have the ability to enforce state law.

“Michigan State Law will be implemented whether or not we have an ordinance,” said Seth Waxman, Planning Commission secretary. “I think there is enough regulation on this topic already. The state law is pretty clear to me. If there are violations or if someone decided they want to open a dispensary we can prosecute it as a nuisance. So I think we are pretty well covered there.”

Mayor Pro Tem, Marlon Brown asked Hitch during the city council meeting held on March 9, about East Lansing’s ordinance. Hitch said that while East Lansing does have a medical marijuana ordinance in the books, the enforcement of that ordinance is not necessarily robust.

“So we would potentially be looking at a similar type of arrangement to East Lansing with a duplication in the books,” said Brown.

The current ordinance in place for Mason was made in 2014 as a placeholder to regulate the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries. The second resolution is to repeal this current ordinance.

It effectively says that after considerable legal advice and consultation with city council, the public, and so on, it really doesn’t make sense to impose a local ordinance that is so similar to the state act.

At a recent town hall meeting, the city residents indicated a broad spectrum of interests.

“The general sense that I got,” said Haywood, “was that people could live with some regulation on this issue, if we had to have some, as long as it wasn’t overly burdensome.”

At the planning commission meeting on March 15, Brown thanked the people who have put time and effort into this issue that has been researched and discussed since 2010.

“A lot of work, a lot of staff hours, and a lot of volunteer hours have gone into the research of this issue as well as exploring the issue with the community,” said Brown.

At that meeting, the Planning Commission opposed resolution one to implement a medical marijuana ordinance and was in favor of resolution two to repeal the ordinance they currently have to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

“There is no point in us pushing forward with something that even if council adopted it, the state changes their laws and then we would have to rush back and change what we did,” said Ed Reeser, planning commission chairman.

The city council made their final decision on March 21. Their final results were the same as The Planning Commission’s.

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