Chelsea became the second city in Washtenaw County to ban medical marijuana dispensaries when the City Council unanimously approved a zoning change to prohibit uses that are contrary to Federal law. The City Council approved the amendment to its zoning ordinance with no discussion. The ordinance will be effective 20 days after publication.Jim Drolett, the City’s planning and zoning administrator, said the text change to the zoning amendment would apply to any business use that is contrary to federal, state or local laws or ordinances. “The intended purpose of this proposed amendment (is) to prohibit the establishment of any uses within the city which violate federal law and this amendment by inference would prohibit medical marijuana dispensary clinics as the sale and distribution of marijuana violates federal law,” according to the agenda item.
The local municipalities who have banned medical marijuana must have missed the memo that Federal Prosecutors were given, issued by the Justice Department in 2009, advising that it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law. The guidelines being issued by the department do, however, make it clear that federal agents will go after people whose marijuana distribution goes beyond what is permitted under state law or use medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes. The memo specifically instructs prosecutors that they “should not focus federal resources in your states on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”
Some cities have embraced the will of the people and even have gone as far as providing ordinances that guide dispensaries and commercial growing facilities to operate. Though the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act doesn’t give guidelines as to how a medical marijuana business must operate, the Act does not ban them. In fact, the intent of the law is that Patients can use medical marijuana and Caregivers and other individuals can help Patients with this process without fear of any sanction – criminal or civil. By banning all medical marijuana related activities in a city, residents of Michigan are being stripped of their rights, privileges, and protections under the law to be a Patient or a Caregiver, even in their own home.