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Medical marijuana:'More questions than answers'

Planning commission to deliberate ordinance

September 08, 2010 - Just weeks before the Atlas Township Planning Commission grapples with recommendations for an ordinance to contend with medical marijiuana in the community—two raids of area medical marijuana dispensaries may make even foggier an already hazy issue.

"What's happening around us regarding medical marijuana is raising more questions than answers. Where do we go? " asked Rick Misek, township planning commission chairperson. "Because this is such a controversial subject we are going to move slowly. Do we extend the moratorium? There will be a public hearing— it's all part of the process. Legally, it's still up in the air."

Last spring, the Atlas Township Planning Commission approved a moratorium to put on hold land use for the marijuana dispensaries until this fall. The township planning commission will meet at 7 p.m., Sept. 15 at the township offices, 7386 Gale Road, to begin the deliberation.

"There are civic leaders that are realizing the secondary impacts of marijuana dispensaries," said Misek. "If the township is going to get one it will be in a public place. This whole issue gets more and more interesting as the 14 states that currently have medical marijuana laws on the books get more into the subject."

Last month, nearby Lapeer County authorities seized nearly 50 marijuana plants from a medical marijuana dispensary in a dispute over how much is too much product. According to news reports Lapeer County Sheriff's deputies raided the Compassionate Care Center of Michigan on Dryden's Main Street, seizing marijuana plants, scales and $3,500 in cash. Also last month, authorities raided two Waterford Township businesses and a Ferndale clinic for alleged violations of state medical marijuana law. According to reports, a total of 17 people were arraigned in Oakland County courts on various marijuana charges as the result of the two medical marijuana dispensary busts.

"Right now no one has approached Atlas Township with an application for a dispensary," said Misek. "Some townships have banned the dispensaries altogether."

On Nov. 4, 2008, Michigan voters approved by 63 percent the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. The law went into effect Dec. 4, 2008. The conditions for the law include treatment of debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer's disease, nail patella, cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, epilepsy, muscle spasms, and multiple sclerosis. There are 14 states that allow medical marijuana.

Southfield attorney Michael Komorn who serves on the board of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association and is affiliated with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Certification Clinic, Green Trees, Caregivers of Michigan and Genco, said the dispensary in Waterford had the permission of the township to be there.

"If you think this is a Cheech and Chong movie, you're wrong. You have to be open-minded. When you look at this place in Waterford, no crime was happening. I understand there were 100 customers per day coming into that dispensary.

"Whether you belive in medical marijuana or not, there is a need for this medicine. Patients can have options. If the community is really seeking to implement this law and make it work, they need to look to the medical marijuana community for guidance.People want to have dispensaries, the criticism of this law is unfair. People went out and voted for this law—now it's the law. The communities are now reaching out to get some clarity. Many, including law enforcement, takes the attitude to fight it out in court. They are arresting patients."

"You hear them speaking of trafficking in marijiuana, but they don't understand medical marijuana— they don't care to find out. They never took the time to understand. It's a legal form of medication. It's for medical use. The way Oakland County went about dealing with medical marijuana is wrong. Townships like Atlas and Brandon need to hear from patients and all the complications they face. They (patients) are living in fear and must continually deal with privacy issues. The community needs to understand why there's a need for marijuana and seek the truth on the intent of medical marijuana laws and how they protect patients."

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