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Township rolls out marijuana moratorium



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August 03, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- Nearly three years ago, Michigan voters approved the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

However, confusion over the law continues, and communities, including this township, are delaying making decisions regarding ordinances as they wait for direction.

During their Aug. 1 meeting, the township board unanimously voted to extend by another six months the existing moratorium on medical marijuana. The original moratorium was approved March 21 and was to end Sept. 21. It will now carry on until at least next March 21.

"We are hoping for guidance," said Supervisor Kathy Thurman. "Pretty much everyone is extending the moratorium."

Locally, Groveland and Atlas townships and the villages of Ortonville and Goodrich have all passed moratoriums on the issue.

Brandon Township's 180-day moratorium states there shall be no consideration or action by any board member, official, employees, or commission on any proposal to establish a land use, activity, business or facility relating to the "medical use" of marijuana in the township, including no action on any application for a zoning or building permit, approval or certificate for such a land use, activity, business or facility; nor shall medical marijuana land uses, activities, business or facilities be permitted in the township.

The moratorium goes on to say that the planning commission, with help from other officials, will study, deliberate and recommend to the township board whether, how and where medical marijuana land uses, activities, businesses or facilities should be permissible in the township and under what conditions or circumstances.

On Nov. 4, 2008, Michigan voters approved by 63 percent the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. The law went into effect Dec. 4, 2008. According to the state regulation, patients may possess up to two and one-half (2.5) ounces of usable marijuana and 12 marijuana plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility. The 12 plants may be kept by the patient only if he or she has not specified a primary caregiver to cultivate the marijuana for him or her.

Thurman said the act was put on the ballot to be voted on despite the federal law against it and while voters want the drug to be available for medical use, the issue is who is allowed to grow the plant and where.

"It's not completely spelled out and that's where the issue arises," she said. "The moratorium is to delay writing an ordinance. We're waiting to see what our legislators tell us as far as the best way to enforce it."

Oakland County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Pete Burkett, commander of the Brandon substation, believes the medical marijuana act was "ramrodded" through.

"If it was perfectly thought out, we wouldn't have moratoriums," he said. "I don't want to take away legal rights, but until the holes in the law are filled, extensions are necessary."

"Sooner or later, decisions have to be made," said Trustee Tom Stowell. "I'm not sure guidance will ever come."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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