Pubdate: Wed, 7 Jul 2010
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)
Copyright: 2010 Battle Creek Enquirer
Author: Barrett Newkirk


Battle Creek's elected officials on Tuesday put a temporary stop to
any new large medical marijuana operations opening in the city.

The six-month moratorium is meant to give the city more time to decide
how it wants to regulate businesses that legally dispense marijuana
for medical use. Michigan voters approved the Medical Marijuana Act in
November 2008, but the act offers little guidance for municipalities
dealing with the new type of business.

Other Michigan cities have enacted similar moratoriums while they work
out their regulations. Commissioners voted to introduce the ordinance
and then voted to pass it. Both votes were 7-1, with Commissioner Ryan
Hersha casting the dissenting vote in each case. Commissioner
Elizabeth Fulton was absent.

An emergency provision in the city charter allows for the quick
approval of ordinances in some situations. City Attorney Eileen
Wicklund said the emergency provision could be applied in this case
because it will help limit the number of businesses established before
regulations such as zoning limitations are enacted.

For "every kind of property use, whether it's marijuana or churches,
we look at the zoning ordinance to see where that use is best situated
in the city," Wicklund said.

The moratorium ends in January or sooner if the city finalizes its
rules. The moratorium does not affect existing businesses. It also
does not apply to caregivers who are licensed by the state to provide
marijuana for as many as five patients; it is meant to stop larger

Supporters of the state's medical marijuana law cautioned
commissioners not to limit patients' access to treatment.

Maggie Perrin, founding member of the Cereal City Compassion Club,
said patients already have to wait four months to get prescription
marijuana, and she worried the moratorium would lengthen that. Medical
marijuana dispensaries "are a safe environment for patients to go and
acquire medications, instead of going out on the street," Perrin said.

In explaining his vote, Hersha said he didn't think putting a stop to
a legal drug meant to help sick patients qualified as an emergency.
Other commissioners said they questioned the quick approval of the
moratorium, but were still going to support it. 
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