At its Feb. 7, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council considered for a third fourth time a proposal on a set of licensing requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities in the city. And again the council voted to postpone its initial vote on the licensing scheme, after undertaking several amendments during lengthy deliberations.
The vote that was postponed is the first of two votes the council must take on any new ordinance it enacts. At its meetings over the last few months, the council has heard extensive public commentary on medical marijuana, but that commentary does not constitute a formal public hearing, which will be held at the same meeting when the council votes on final approval of the licensing, provided it eventually gives initial approval to the licensing system.
At its Oct. 18, 2010 meeting, the council gave its initial approval to a set of zoning regulations for medical marijuana businesses, but it has not yet given its final approval to those regulations. The council’s strategy is to bring licensing and zoning forward at the same time for a final vote.
The context for development of zoning regulations was set at the council’s Aug. 5, 2010 meeting, when councilmembers voted to impose a moratorium on the use of property in the city for medical marijuana dispensaries or cultivation facilities. Subsequently, the city attorney’s office also began working on a licensing system, which the council first considered at its Jan. 3, 2010 meeting.
At its Jan. 3 meeting, the council heavily amended the licensing proposal. Among the key amendments made at that meeting was one that stripped “home occupation” businesses out of the proposal. At the Jan. 3 meeting, the council also increased the cap on the total number of licenses available to 20 for dispensaries and 10 for cultivation facilities. Another major amendment made on Jan. 3 was the creation of a board to govern the issuance of licenses. However, the council delayed voting on the first reading of the proposal. [.pdf of licensing ordinance language at the start of the Feb. 7, 2011 meeting]
At its Jan. 18 meeting, the council was poised to undertake further amendments to the licensing proposal, including many that concerned limiting the amount of information that is required to be divulged by those associated with license applications. However, the council did not amend the proposal further at that meeting.
The moratorium on additional facilities in the city to be used as medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities was extended by the council at its Jan. 18 meeting to go through March 31, 2011.
This brief was filed from the boardroom in the Washtenaw County administration building, where the council is meeting due to renovations in the city hall building. A more detailed report will follow: [link]