Medical marijuana zoning ordinance passes 5-2

FLINT TWP. — A Medical Marijuana zoning ordinance is now on the books in Flint Township.

After months of discussion, three moratorium extensions and one last try at postponement, the Board of Trustees adopted the ordinance amendment 5-2 at its Monday night meeting.

The controversial ordinance amendment passed first reading back in March but has been delayed by concerns about legal statutes and wording which some argue it too restrictive or vague and defeats the intent of the Medical Marijuana Act approved by voters in 2008.

Several people spoke during public comment about the need for the board to continue to gather facts and weigh the consequences before adopting the ordinance as written.

Nick Panessidi, a medical marihuana consultant, once again voiced his concerns that the ordinance would close his business and hamper dispensation of the drug to people who need it. He owns the Michigan Wellness Center, 3095 S. Dye Road, which provides counseling and information about medical marijuana but does not dispense it.

“Nothing is changed in this ordinance,’’ Panessidi said. “It is very clear that in this wording that any medical marijuana business that services a wide customer base will be in violation.”

“We have come this far, let’s extend it one more time to … make a good solid decision on something that will work in this community for the people.’’

Trustees Barb Vert and Belenda Parker voted in favor of postponement, which was defeated, and voted against subsequent adoption of the ordinance.

Vert said that additional fact-finding was the reason the board gave for postponing its decision two weeks ago but nothing has changed since then. She pointed out that the board’s latest moratorium does not expire until Oct. 4 and she understood other board members were comfortable with that deadline to pass the ordinance.

Trustee Frank Kasle responded to Vert that she had had nine months to gather information and if she wanted more she should go get it herself.

“As far as I am concerned this issues has been discussed over and over again,” Kasle said. “What we are doing here is zoning … allowing businesses to operate pursuant to the state statutes.’’

Kasle said he had asked several people including the supervisor and economic enhancement director Tracey Tucker if the ordinance would shut down Panessidi’s business and was told it would not.

“I am voting for this on the basis of those answers. If it turns out to be incorrect then we will have to do something about it.’’

Under the newly adopted 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 a Medical marihuana 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.’’

“These regulations are intended to control the negative secondary impacts such businesses have been documented to have on the surrounding area and community,’’ the ordinance states.

It also states that it does not regulate the growing of marijuana for personal use by a qualifying patient.

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