Niles City Council passes medical marijuana ordinance

By: Sarah Platt Email
By: Sarah Platt Email

As you might already know, medical marijuana is now legal in the state of Michigan. But some local community leaders in the state want to make sure the new law doesn't disrupt the quality of life for residents. They say the law has too many loopholes.

That's why the Niles City Council voted to approve its own medical marijuana ordinance on Monday night. It spells out more specific rules for patients and caregivers that are licensed to grow medical marijuana.

In a unanimous 8-0 vote, the Niles City Council approved the city's new medical marijuana ordinance.

City council members say they have no intention of taking rights away from medical marijuana patients and caregivers-- they just want fill in some of the gaps the state law leaves unanswered.

But not everybody is happy this ordinance passed.

“It kinda really violates a patient privilege that goes on,” says one man who spoke out against the ordinance.

Monday night's meeting was the second and final time the public had a chance to weigh in on the Niles medical marijuana ordinance.

“Over 60% of the people of this state voted for this law,” points out another person who disagreed with the ordinance. “You gotta remember the whole intent of this law was about compassion, about compassion for the patient.”

In total, three people spoke out against the ordinance. They say a local code oversteps Michigan's state law.

But the Niles City Council and Mayor disagree. They say the state left them with no real guidelines-- and they have little choice but to regulate medical marijuana to protect the public and make sure the new law isn't abused.

“We do want to set some reasonable limits to it and make it where it's workable for everybody and we won't get a lot of complaints from the citizens,” says Nile Councilman Bill Weimer.

“We know there's a significant population that will benefit from this and we think it's wonderful [but]… there are some concerns with respect to neighborhoods and things that might or might happen in the neighborhoods and we just want to protect those people,” says Niles Mayor Mike McCauslin.

Here's a look at a few of the rules in the Niles medical marijuana ordinance:

Marijuana must be grown inside a locked building with a roof and walls (state law allows outside growth). Also, caregivers won’t be allowed to grow within 1000 feet of a school zone, but patients can. And no more than one caregiver can grow at a single location.

Meantime, Greg Francisco, the Executive Director for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, is concerned local communities are trying to find a solution to a problem that he says doesn't exist.

“We certainly plan to continue to follow this situation. They did pass the ordinance, we are disappointed, but the city also left open the door to amending it. And again, this ordinance can be amended at any time in the future,” says Francisco.

Although the new ordinance was approved Monday night, it won't officially take effect for another 20 days.

With this medical marijuana law being so new in Michigan, other communities are also exploring local medical marijuana ordinances. Many city and township leaders say the state simply didn't spell out the rules enough, so they're creating their own.


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