Council Takes Medical Marijuana Off Agenda

Now removed from the Ann Arbor city council’s June 4, 2012 agenda is an item regarding a change in the city’s zoning regulations that relate to medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

The ordinance change that the council would have considered would have eliminated from the zoning ordinance one sentence: “Medical marijuana dispensaries and medical marijuana cultivation facilities shall be operated in compliance with the MMMA (Michigan Medical Marijuana Act).” [.pdf of the recommended zoning ordinance change.

The recommendation for the change in the ordinance language had originally come from the city's medical marijuana licensing board. At its April 2, 2012 meeting, the city council then directed the city planning commission to consider the licensing board's recommendation. The planning commission then reviewed and considered the recommendation at its May 1, 2012 meeting, voting unanimously against striking the sentence in the zoning ordinance. The change would have likely not had majority support on the city council, if it had remained on the June 4 agenda.

From a practical point of view, striking the sentence has implications for the timing of the decision point for granting dispensary licenses: Is the decision made by the city council or by city staff? [See Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor Marijuana Licenses: Who Decides?"] For the first round  of license applications, submitted after the council approved a licensing and zoning ordinance, the medical marijuana licensing board has recommended the award of licenses to 10 dispensaries, some of them conditionally. No licenses have been awarded.

The decision to remove the item comes amid an uncertain legislative and judicial environment in Michigan regarding medical marijuana.