Is the township’s medical marijuana zoning ordinance too restrictive?

FLINT TWP. — The Township Board is being asked to revise its marijuana ordinance, which was approved four years ago.

Township Clerk Kim Courts provided other board members with a letter at it last meeting from the Cannabis Attorneys of Michigan, based in Howell.

Dated April 20, the letter from Cannabis Attorneys addressed to the board of trustless, said that the firm represents the medical marijuana industry statewide and that several of clients have requested help in exploring opportunities in Flint Township.

“Unfortunately, however, the township’s current ordinance provides virtually no locations in which a medical marijuana provisioning centers or cultivation facility could lawfully operate,’’ the letter stated. “Because of the restriction that requires medial marijuana businesses to be 1,500 feet from residential zones the ordinance acts as a de facto ban on these businesses.”

The letter goes on to compliment the township’s proactive zoning efforts but stresses that most municipalities have adopted medical marijuana ordinances that are less restrictive about distance requirements, for example stipulating only 1,00 feet distance from schools and day care centers and 500 feet from churches and parks.

“The current 1,500 foot distance requirement does not appear to be rationally related to any legitimate public purpose, but rather appears designed to keep medical marijuana businesses out of the Township,’’ the letter stated.

The letter outlines the purpose of medical marijuana patient care centers and the credentials and licensing of people who run them. These legitimate businesses have been “lumped in with sexually oriented businesses for special regulated land use,” the letter stated.

“This is not recreational hash bars we are talking about. This is medicine. And in 2008 the voters in Flint Township approved the use of marijuana as medicine by a wide margin.”

The letter asserts that the township ordinance makes it virtually impossible for responsible businesses to secure permits to operate in Flint Township.

The letter then warns “the severity of this restriction may lead to the proliferation of unlicensed black market operators who do not have the best interests of the community in mind.”

The letter concludes with asking township official to revise the ordinance to allow medical marijuana businesses within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center and within 500 feet of a church, residential or existing regulated use or public park.

Cannabis Attorneys said its clients are working with state legislators to create a comprehensive regulatory framework for safe distribution of medical marijuana in Michigan.

The board received the letter from Courts in an advisory capacity. She said the board could consider how to handle it or discuss it at a later date. The regular May 4 township board meeting was canceled due to the May 5 election. The board will next meet on May 18. Its agenda has not yet been publicized.

The township approved in a 5-2 vote its medical marijuana zoning ordinance in August 2011 after more than a year of a moratorium on the issue.

Under the zoning ordinance, medical marijuana dispensaries must locate in areas zoned industrial most of which are south of Miller Road. They are prohibited from locating within 1,500 feet of a church, school, residential district, public park, existing regulated use or childcare facility.

The ordinance defines what it considered to be a Medical marijuana business and states that “the Medical Marijuana Act does not authorize marijuana stores, dispensaries, compassion centers or any medical marijuana business that may market to a wide customer base.’’

It states that the regulations are intended to control the negative secondary impact on the surrounding area but does not apply to qualifying patients growing marijuana for personal use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *