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Ann Arbor City Council votes on amendments to medical marijuana ordinance

BY CECE ZHOU
Daily Staff Reporter
Published May 2, 2011

Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the medical marijuana ordinance passed.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted on amendments to two draft ordinances Monday night regarding increased regulation of the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana in the city.

The vote was originally scheduled for April 19 but was delayed so that council members could reflect on new information provided at the meeting involving two proposed amendments dealing with zoning and licensing of the facilities as well as requiring sellers to compile and provide access to client lists.

Council members discussed further amendments to the ordinance including clarifying the licensing limits for dispensaries and cultivation facilities since the ordinance currently states that the number of facilities in the city will be limited.

Chuck Ream, owner of the marijuana dispensary MedMAR Pharmaceuticals, Inc., mentioned during the public hearing portion of the meeting that the ordinance would cause an unnecessary violation of confidentiality between caretakers and their patients since it requires sellers to allow officials access to their client list.

“You must please drop the record-keeping environment that have given our caretakers tremendous danger for no real reason,” Ream said. “You hold the lives of good people in your hands.”

Kirk Reid, a medical marijuana patient and caregiver, spoke about how he is uncomfortable with the ordinance because it would grant strangers access to inspect his home.

A proposed amendment by councilmember Carsten Hohnke (D–Ward 5) after the vote led to debate of changing the buffer boundary — the distance that medical marijuana centers are required to be from schools, including colleges — from 1,000 to 1,010 feet.

“In working with staff, we’ve identified that 1,010 feet does a little of a better job of trying to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish,” Hohnke said. “The intent here is not to impact any existing dispensary or cultivation facilities but simply to make corners more whole and locations more continuous.”

Council members Sandi Smith (D–Ward 1) and Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) voiced their disagreements to the proposed amendment, calling it unnecessary.

“1,000 feet is more than cautionary, and I don’t see any reason to (change) it,” Smith said.

The motion failed to pass and further commentary on the matter was postponed.

The council also questioned references in the ordinance to the difference between home occupations and commercial cultivation facilities in zoning areas. Despite the differences, the limit of marijuana plants that can be grown in the city totals 72.

Multiple word rephrasing and changes to the regulations document were also made, and the council determined that any further amendments would be discussed at a later time.


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