The Ann Arbor City Council made several revisions to a proposed licensing ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation facilities and home growers at its meeting Monday night.

The ordinance was drafted by the Ann Arbor Planning Commission to regulate how medical marijuana licenses will be issued and enforced by the city. Among the changes is an increase in the number of dispensaries and cultivation facilities that will be allowed to operate in the city.

While the original ordinance put a cap on 15 total dispensaries and cultivation facilities, the revised version allows for up to 20 dispensaries and 10 cultivation facilities to operate at one time.

In an interview yesterday, Ann Arbor City Council Member Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1), who played a significant role in proposing the revisions, explained the council’s reasoning behind the three most significant revisions. Briere said she supports the increase in the number of dispensaries and cultivation facilities since they can result in economic growth throughout the city.

“There’s a lot of economic potential in this business,” Briere said.

The second revision involves removing a section from the ordinance that would have required home growers to register with the city.

Briere said this requirement would likely have done more harm than good, since it would have deterred home growers from applying for city inspections for fear of having their information recorded on an official list.

“We felt making it possible for people to be inspected by city building inspectors but not have their name appear on a list … was a good idea,” Briere said.

The final revision would make it possible for people charged with drug-related misdemeanors to open a dispensary. This change was especially important, Briere said, since she expects some people who will be qualified to open dispensaries won’t have spotless legal records.

“We are talking about something that isn’t 100 percent legal,” Briere said. “We can’t expect the people doing it to be 100 percent law-abiding.”

However, the proposed ordinance still prohibits people charged with any felony from operating a cultivation facility or dispensary. They also wouldn’t be able to serve as home growers.

The current ordinance also states that all cultivation facilities and dispensaries must have security cameras and alarms in the areas, in addition to an overnight system that secures the medical marijuana. In adherence to the guidelines in the current ordinance, the cultivation facilities would have to prove there is a ventilation system in place that deters marijuana fumes.

The revised ordinance will appear before City Council for a first reading at its Jan. 18 meeting, Briere said.

If approved at that meeting, the ordinance will advance to a public hearing and a second reading before being voted on. If passed, the ordinance will follow a temporary moratorium expiring Jan. 31 that regulates medical marijuana in the city, according to a Dec. 7, 2010 Michigan Daily article.

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