Source: Sherman Publications

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Twp. medical marijuana moratorium extended

by Susan Bromley

March 07, 2012

Brandon Twp.- The township board has approved extending for one year a moratorium on medical marijuana.

The 6-0 vote to adopt a resolution in support of the extension came during the March 5 board meeting. Clerk Jeannie McCreery was absent with notice.

The approval of the extension means the township will not approve requests for medical marijuana land uses, businesses, and/or facilities. According to the resolution, the moratorium is not intended to prohibit a qualifying patient's personal use of medical marijuana in his/her private residence in accordance with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which took effect Dec. 4, 2008.

"The state has not addressed the current act's shortcomings in order for the local governments to make it a more workable framework," said Township Supervisor Kathy Thurman. "Until they do so, it's very difficult for us to enforce its provisions. It's my understanding they are working on it. I hope that by the time this moratorium runs out, the state will have clarified the intentions of the act."

The township's moratorium will end March 5, 2013.

This is the third moratorium the township has passed on medical marijuana. The original moratorium took effect March 21, 2011 and was for six months. The second moratorium took effect last September and was also for six months.

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

The moratorium passed last year stated that the planning commission, with help from other officials, would 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.

The current moratorium states the township planning commission has had numerous meetings and discussions about medical marijuana in an effort to understand and develop a recommended course of action for the township.

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 has 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.

The current township moratorium states, "letters recently issued by the U.S. Attorney's offices in various states have created uncertainty over the federal government's stance on the legality of medical marijuana land uses and have stated state and local officials will not be immune from prosecution under federal laws."

The moratorium also cites a June 2011 determination by the state circuit court that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act is preempted by federal law and is of no effect, which "although not precedentially binding adds further uncertainty to the state of the medical marijuana law in Michigan."