Pubdate: Thu, 2 Dec 2010
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)
Copyright: 2010 Battle Creek Enquirer
Author: Barrett Newkirk, The Enquirer
Cited: Battle Creek Planning Commission

Planners OK Medical Marijuana Zones in B.C.

Planning Commission Recommends Changes to Allow Use in Private Clubs

Medical marijuana patients would be able to use the drug in private 
clubs under the latest version of a proposed city ordinance.

The Battle Creek Planning Commission on Tuesday recommended changing 
the city's zoning rules to allow growing marijuana for medicinal use 
in certain commercial zones.

Compassion clubs, operations that provide support services for 
medical marijuana patients, would be allowed in some zones and would 
give patients a second place to use their medicine besides their homes.

The planning commission approved recommending the changes 5-2, with 
Jan Frantz and City Commissioner Bill Morris voting no.

Frantz requested the city add a limit on the number of caregivers who 
can operate in a single location, but her amendment failed.

The Battle Creek City Commission still must sign off on the zoning 
changes, as well as approve a separate ordinance requiring a city 
license for some residential or commercial properties where medical 
marijuana is grown. Those ordinances are set to be introduced at a 
meeting Tuesday.

An earlier recommendation from city staff would have banned the use 
of marijuana in compassion clubs. It was changed after medical 
marijuana advocates said it was important to give patients an 
alternative location to use the drug besides their homes.

At Tuesday's meeting, more than 30 people spoke out against the 
proposed regulations, saying they went against state law, would limit 
patients' access to medicine and would force patients to buy 
marijuana off the street.

Operations focused primarily on the dispensing or smoking of medical 
marijuana would still be banned under the city's proposed regulations.

But smoking in the clubs is not a settled issue. The city commission 
could change the recommendation, and at a workshop Tuesday morning, 
Vice Mayor Chris Simmons hinted that he was not in favor of allowing 
use at the clubs.

Medical marijuana proponents also were concerned that compassion 
clubs would not be allowed to distribute the drug. Patients said only 
getting the drug from their designated caregiver means they have no 
backup source.

But Battle Creek City Attorney Eileen Wicklund said she didn't feel 
the state's medical marijuana law allowed for entities like 
compassion clubs to distribute marijuana.

A temporary halt to new medical marijuana establishments in Battle 
Creek expires in January, meaning the city has one month to finalize its rules.

Other cities have instituted full bans on medical marijuana, which 
Michigan voters approved in 2008.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a 
lawsuit against the cities of Bloomfield Hills, Livonia and 
Birmingham, saying the cities' bans violate state law. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake