Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jun 2011
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)
Copyright: 2011 Battle Creek Enquirer
Author: Barrett Newkirk


Battle Creek officials have moved toward extending the city's ban on
new medical marijuana operations into the middle of next year.

The city commission voted Tuesday to introduce an 11-month extension
of a medical marijuana moratorium first enacted last year.

Commissioner Elizabeth Fulton cast the only dissenting vote. Fulton
said she felt delaying a decision on a local medical marijuana
ordinance was neglecting her duties.

"I just don't think I would be doing my job as an elected official by
putting this off, for two months, for eleven months," she said.

A final vote on the extension could come at the commission's next
meeting on July 5.

If approved, the extension would be the third time commissioners have
delayed a decision on any kind of local medical marijuana regulations.
A moratorium was first approved last July and then extended by six
months in January.

City Attorney Eileen Wicklund recommended the additional extension so
that issues with the Michigan medical marijuana law can be examined by
courts and the Legislature.

Wicklund said that unlike other city ordinances that are based on
state laws and court decisions related to those laws, courts have not
had enough time to interpret the medical marijuana law.

"This law puts this city commission in a huge legal bind if it takes
action one way or the other," Wicklund said.

Since voters approved Michigan's medical marijuana law in 2008,
communities around the state have struggled to institute some local
oversight to a drug that remains illegal under federal law.

The state law allows for people with certain medical conditions to
receive a state medical marijuana license and for people to become
licensed medical marijuana growers. The city's moratorium doesn't ban
licensed users or growers in the city, but blocks larger growing
operations or sites set up for dispensing or using medical marijuana.

Commissioners in December scrapped a plan that would have instituted
zoning restrictions and a city license for some medical marijuana growers.

Past meetings about medical marijuana brought dozens of the law's
supporters to City Hall because of worry that commissioners would
limit patients' access to the drug. On Tuesday, no one from the public
spoke on the issue. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.