After months of discussions and revisions to the city’s proposed medical marijuana ordinance, the Ann Arbor City Council approved the first reading of the ordinance last night.

Included in the updated ordinance — which was postponed five times previously — were two amendments proposed by Council members Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) and Sandi Smith (D–Ward 1). The changes concerned medical marijuana packaging and how the current estimated 15 medical marijuana dispensaries in the area would be relicensed under the new ordinance.

Democratic Mayor John Hieftje said the council will have a second reading on the ordinance next month.

In regard to the packaging of medical marijuana, the weight of the medicine and the application of personalized alphanumeric identification — which encompasses numbers and letter — for the recipient and the dispensary would have to be considered. Briere said this method of identification is intended for record keeping and to provide a substantial tie between the patient and caregiver.

Chuck Ream, owner of MedMAR Pharmaceuticals Inc., a medical marijuana dispensary on Packard Road, spoke at the meeting and said this method of identification is better than other alternatives.

“It’s an improvement to use an alphanumeric ID rather than our state ID numbers,” Ream said.

Along with these identifications, the contact information for the dispensary would be provided on the package, Briere said. This allows the patient to contact the provider with any questions.

“It’s the link between the patient and the caregiver that’s such a vital thing here,” Briere said.

In addition to the clause on marijuana packaging, an amendment was included that would ensure the medical marijuana being sold in Ann Arbor is grown in Michigan and not imported.

In an interview during a session break, Hieftje said the packaging and identification tags are meant to keep patients safe from harmful products.

“Our concern is verifying that the product comes from Michigan and making sure the product is not tainted,” he said.

Now that the first reading is approved, Hieftje said the second reading will have a public hearing beforehand to encourage input from the community.

“It’s all about getting input from the public,” he said. “They might bring us an idea we hadn’t thought about.”

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