Source: Sherman Publications

Remove Images

Addison Twp. to revisit MM issue in light of court ruling

by Lance Farrell

August 08, 2012

Due to a recent ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals, many municipalities across the state feel compelled to revisit their medical marijuana Ordinances.

Addison Township will revisit the issue in upcoming meetings.

The reversal came about on July 31 when Wyoming, Michigan was instructed to change its zoning ordinance to comply with Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA). In so ruling, the Court of Appeals made clear that lower ordinances cannot supersede state law.

Wyoming had attempted to use the federal law as a shield to deny implementation of the MMMA law, however the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) contended that the "federal government does not prosecute patients who comply with their states' medical marijuana laws."

According to the July 31 ruling, the appellate court said that since the Michigan law does not mandate use of medical marijuana, it is therefore not "physically impossible to comply with both the MMMA and the (Controlled Substance Act) at the same time." Federal laws will be upheld by federal authorities, the ruling indicated, and local bodies won't be allowed to impinge on state law.

Dan Korobkin, of the Michigan ACLU, looked on the case as rejection of what he called the "misguided efforts" of local authorities to overturn the will of the "historic election" of 2008, in which sixty-three percent of Michigan voters demonstrated overwhelming support for the legal use of marijuana by registered patients.

Korobkin said that all Michigan municipalities "should take notice and stop threatening to treat patients who have done nothing wrong as criminals."

Addison Township Supervisor Bruce Pearson said he's going to follow state law, and is "all for people (using) marijuana for their medical purposes, to control pain or whatever. I'm all for that and I think that's what the state law is about."

"I'm all for whatever makes them more comfortable, whatever medicine works for them." Pearson said he doesn't think that registered patients should be without it, "just because it's marijuana."

"Local governments cannot enact an ordinance or have regulations that are more restrictive on medical marijuana than state law,"summarized Robert Davis, Addison Township attorney. "You can't have a state medical marijuana act and then start frustrating it at the local level or becoming more strict at the local level," he clarified.

Addison Township saw the confusion and fluid nature of the 2008 MMMA and issued a moratorium as they waited for County officials to weigh in. Davis said the Addison moratorium was issued because "we were simply waiting for the zoning issue for storefront facilities to get clarified--which they haven't."

Davis also said he wouldn't be surprised to see Wyoming appeal this decision to the Michigan Supreme Court, because "I don't think they came to a clear answer about how this plays out with the federal law."

Davis indicated that Addison "will either draft an ordinance that makes it clear where we stand under the state law, or we'll do nothing and let the state law be the law. I'll be advising (Addison) on that at our next meeting."