At its meeting last night, the Ann Arbor City Council postponed voting on an ordinance that would impose legal guidelines on medical marijuana licensing in Ann Arbor.

The ordinance already had been postponed at two prior meetings and now will be reconsidered at the council’s next meeting on Feb. 7 in order to review possible amendments to the proposed law. Midway through its discussion, the City Council rejected an amendment to the ordinance that sought to better protect the anonymity of cultivation facility and dispensary owners.

During the public commentary section of the meeting, several area residents expressed concerns over a stipulation in the ordinance that would require owners of dispensaries and cultivation facilities to place their contact information – including their names and addresses – on an official list.

City Council member Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) told council that this requirement is not in the licensing guidelines for other businesses like liquor stores.

However, both City Attorney Stephen Postema and City Council member Stephen Rapundalo (D–Ward 2) said liquor licenses do actually require licensees to provide comparable information to that outlined in the marijuana licensing ordinance.

City Council member Christopher Taylor (D–Ward 3) added that he believes the city law shouldn’t seek to protect the information of business owners, which includes dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

“I think that the line of protecting anonymity falls for patients and caregivers rather than business owners,” Taylor said.

Following the rejection of the amendment concerning anonymity, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje proposed that council postpone voting on the ordinance until Feb. 7 to allow City Council members time to consider other possible amendments.

Hieftje added that the extra time will enable Council members to consult with the City Attorneys Office regarding the validity of possible amendments. Following Hieftje’s suggestion, City Council member Marcia Higgins (D–Ward 4) motioned to postpone voting on the ordinance, and the City Council members unanimously agreed.

Responding to concerns that the City Council is taking too much time to discuss the ordinance, Hieftje said it is being necessarily cautious in examining the language the ordinance uses.

“We are going to be extremely careful that we craft some legislation that we believe is going to best serve the patients and the caregivers and anyone who is involved,” Hieftje said.

In an interview after addressing council, Dexter resident Gershom Avery, a medical marijuana proponent who spoke during the public comment section, said he feels strongly that the city shouldn’t compile the information of cultivation facility and dispensary owners.

“The best solution is to remove the temptation to act as an agency of the federal government … by not compiling these lists,” Avery said.

When asked how he felt about a section in the ordinance that prohibits felons from opening either dispensaries or cultivation facilities, Avery said he thinks that people charged with marijuana-related felonies should be permitted to open such businesses.

“It is curious that those people who can actually document that they have years of experience growing, by virtue of their own criminal record … are the ones that are strictly forbidden from participating,” Avery said.

Ann Arbor resident Renee Wolfe, who spoke before Council, said in an interview after the meeting that she was the first multiple sclerosis patient in the state to use federally-supplied marijuana. She also said she has a felony on her record for manufacturing marijuana.

“The felony was for growing my medicine,” Wolfe said.

Renee said it is important that the city of Ann Arbor make it possible to open medical marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries so that individuals in need of health-related assistance are able to obtain it.

“If I didn’t have my medicine, I wouldn’t be able to live my life,” Wolfe said.

— Rayza Goldmith contributed to this report.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.