Ann Arbor residents are left with a cliffhanger once again regarding future medical marijuana regulation in the city.

After a discussion lasting more than three hours, the Ann Arbor City Council again postponed the initial reading of a proposed ordinance that would monitor medical marijuana cultivation and distribution in the city at its meeting last night. Instead, a series of amendments to the proposal were discussed.

This is the fifth meeting at which council has delayed voting on the ordinance.

In an interview before the meeting, City Attorney Stephen Postema said there is no legal limit on how many times council can postpone the first reading of the ordinance. He noted that council may be postponing the first reading in an effort to avoid postponements on the second reading.

Proposed by City Council member Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1), one amendment discussed last night would allow a medical marijuana patient and an Ann Arbor resident who isn’t a City Council member, physician or medical marijuana caregiver to become a member on a proposed board that would approve medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation facility licenses.

In response to Briere’s proposal, City Council member Tony Derezinski (D–Ward 2) pointed out that by labeling the newly added board member as an “Ann Arbor resident,” one could infer that the other four board members would not need to be residents of Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje responded by saying that non-residents are only allowed to hold a position on a city board if they possess expert skills that would benefit that particular group. He added that such a board member also must be approved by a supermajority of the City Council members. However, Hieftje said he would prefer all board members be Ann Arbor residents.

Offering a solution, Postema said the amendment could denote the board member as “one other Ann Arbor resident.” Briere acknowledged her support of this change to her amendment.

Later in the discussion of the amendment, Marcia Higgins (D–Ward 4) noted that city board commissioners are required to identify themselves by their addresses, which may be available in public records. She pointed out that this could cause a problem because many caregivers and patients are concerned with keeping their personal information from the eyes of federal officials.

Hieftje said requiring these particular board members to provide their personal information could constrain the variety of candidates available for council to choose from.

“It could create a situation where there’s an extremely narrow field of applicants,” he said.

City Council member Sandi Smith (D–Ward 1) noted that this change could be made in the second reading of the ordinance.

In an interview after he spoke in front of council, Matthew Abel, senior partner at Cannabis Counsel P.L.C. — a Detroit-based law firm that specializes in cases related to marijuana — said council should consider the importance of privacy when deliberating on the ordinance.

“We are concerned that the federal government does influence our records and we’re concerned that that may continue,” Abel said. “I recommend to my clients to keep a minimum amount of records. Unfortunately it has to be that way.”

— Daily News Editor Dylan Cinti contributed to this report.

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