Marijuana Licenses: Initial OK by Ann Arbor

At its March 21, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council finally took its first vote on a set of licensing requirements for medical marijuana businesses. All new ordinances require a second and final vote by the city council after a formal public hearing. The council had first considered the licensing scheme at its Dec. 6, 2010 meeting.

The council undertook several amendments to the licensing proposal at three of its meetings over the last three months: on Jan. 3, Feb. 7 and March 7. It also amended the ordinance on March 21, most notably to include a requirement that dispensaries maintain records for 180 days one year using unique alpha-numeric identifiers for patients and caregivers, different from the Michigan Dept. of Public Health registry numbers.

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, and directed its planning commission to develop zoning regulations for medical marijuana businesses. Subsequently, the city attorney’s office also began working on a licensing system.

The moratorium on using additional facilities in the city as medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities – first enacted on Aug. 5, 2010 and subsequently extended – was extended a second time by the council at its Jan. 18 meeting to go through March 31, 2011. When this brief was filed, the council had taken a recess and had not yet voted on extending the moratorium.

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.