Douglas Leaders Get To Work On Hammering Out New Medical Marijuana Regulations
The Douglas City Council continued to work on medical marijuana regulation at its Monday night meeting, having previously tabled the issue.
City council voted to repeal the only ordinance the city had regarding medical marijuana and further voted to establish a moratorium on enforcing the respective ordinance, citing incompatibility with new state of Michigan regulations and court orders.
Nevertheless, the council’s recent actions do not give medical marijuana growers free reign as the city seeks to formulate a legal and workable solution.
“Caregivers, which are limited to 72 plants and five patients, are the only ones that can operate legally as of right now,” Douglas Zoning Administrator and Community Development Director Lisa Imus told The Local Observer on Monday.
While only a patient-caregiver relationship is lawful right now, if conducted in compliance with the citizen-initiated law of 2008 (the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMM), other types of facilities—what the general public would describe as “dispensaries”— will have to wait until Dec. 15, 2017, when they can apply for a State of Michigan license under the new law (Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA), PA 281 of 2016).
While PA 281 was signed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Sept. 21, 2016, it did come with a 360-day delay in implementation to enable the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to establish the licensing system that is demanded by the new act.
The law requires an annual license for the following named entities: growers, processors, provisioning centers, secure transporters, and safety compliance facilities.
The language does not refer to dispensaries whatsoever, instead choosing the designation “provisioning centers” licensees that can allow them to purchase marijuana from a grower or processor to sell, supply, or provide marijuana to patients, directly or through the patient’s caregiver.
“Any time after Dec. 15, 2017 is the earliest an applicant may submit an application to the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board (MMLB) for consideration.
“Any time after Dec. 15, 2017, a municipality that wants to allow medical marijuana facilities to operate within boundaries would adopt an ordinance allowing one or more of the specific types of facilities authorized by the MMFLA,” informs an Oct. 31, 2016 Q&A paper provided to municipalities by Catherine Mullhaupt, a staff attorney with the Michigan Townships Association.
Again, city officials voted to repeal the previous ordinance on grounds the city’s May 2013 ordinance—which regulated medical marijuana facilities by means of zoning, establishing an overlay district within which registered primary caregivers will be able to operate—did not conform to the recent State of Michigan law (Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA), PA 281 of Sept. 21, 2016 and recent court orders.
“The objective of the 2016 law is to commercialize the growing of medical marijuana. They (state legislatures) want everything standardized so that patients know what they are getting; they (registered patients) would have regulated products they can depend on,” said Imus.
PA 281 fills some of the legal holes that arose from the citizen-initiated law of 2008 (MMMA), which makes medical marijuana use legal for qualified patients and allows registered caregivers to provide to those patients (it allows up to five patients per caregiver).
The recent development was triggered when licensed caregiver Tammy Jacobi went to the city to request a permit to open a medical marijuana operation two weeks ago.
Jacobi is purchasing a building along the Blue Star Highway (the old Saugatuck-Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau building) to set up shop.
The city, however, was unprepared for her—it doesn’t have an application for such a permit.