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Medical marijuana ordinance on PC agenda

September 22, 2010 - By C.J. Carnacchio

Leader Editor

After months of discussion and research, Oxford Township is one step closer to regulating medical marijuana dispensaries within its borders.

At its 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23 meeting, the township planning commission is scheduled to discuss a four-page draft ordinance on the subject created by its Ordinance Review Subcommittee.

The meeting will be held on the second floor of the Oxford Veterans Memorial Civic Center (28 N. Washington St.).

"I'm pretty pleased with what the Ordinance Review Subcommittee's done," said Planning Commission Chairman Todd Bell. "They thoroughly researched the law. They've gone through a lot of other municipalities' (ordinances). They did a really good job coming back with what, I think, is going to work within the township."

If eventually approved, the ordinance would only apply to properties in the unincorporated township. It would not regulate dispensaries within the village.

Under the proposed ordinance, medical marijuana dispensaries could only operate if they've been issued a special use permit by the planning commission.

A dispensary is defined as "a facility that dispenses, facilitates or sells" marijuana "to more than five persons who are in medical need" of it in accordance with the state law approved by Michigan voters in 2008.

Dispensaries would only be permitted in the following township zoning districts Local Commercial (C-1), General Commercial (C-2) and RO (Research-Office). Dispensaries would not be allowed as a home occupation.

Locations for these dispensaries would be further restricted by proposed language that states they cannot be within one mile of any other dispensary or within 1,000 feet of a church, public or private K-12 school or licensed child care facility.

The draft ordinance limits the number of dispensaries in the township to one facility for every 5,000 residents.

Dispensaries could only operate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. and the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises would be prohibited.

Smoking or consumption of medical marijuana would not be allowed anywhere on the dispensary's premises and all activity, such as growing marijuana plants and dispensing the substance itself, must be done indoors, according to the draft ordinance.

Individuals under the age of 18 would only be permitted inside the dispensary when accompanied by an adult.

However, the proposed language is unclear as to who that adult must be. In one section, it states the person accompanying the minor must be either a qualifying patient or their caregiver. But in another section, it states this person must be a parent or guardian.

Bell indicated he plans to seek clarification on that.

Under this proposed ordinance, retail sales of marijuana paraphernalia could only be made to patients or caregivers.

For security reasons, the proposed ordinance mandates each dispensary shall be monitored at all times by a closed-circuit surveillance system and have a centrally-monitored fire and burglar alarm system.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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