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Lansing council passes medical marijuana ordinance

Daily Dose 2010-09-22 0 comments

Jennifer Maxey (left) and The Unconventional Foundation for Autism founder Mieko Hester-Perez (right) at 420 University's Science and Compassionate Care Seminar this summer in Michigan

The Lansing City Council on Monday passed a medical marijuana ordinance to permit the administering of the drug as a home occupation.

The vote was 5-0, minus the presence of council members A’Lynne Robinson, Derrick Quinney and Brian Jeffries.

“This has to deal with zoning,” said Councilwoman Carol Wood, who chairs the public safety committee. “This will only have a small effect.”

Members will return to the issue next Monday to determine whether the ordinance takes effect immediately.

Several communities, including Grand Rapids, already permit the administering of medical marijuana as a home occupation.

Shaped by the input of both medical marijuana patients and concerned parents, Lansing’s ordinance would mandate at least 1,000 feet between certain institutions and addresses of those authorized by law to transfer, distribute or administer medical marijuana to patients. Those institutions include public and private schools and colleges, substance abuse prevention services, playgrounds and churches.

Since city administrators introduced the proposed ordinance last June, critics have been upset with the distance requirement, saying that it implies a criminal element.

“Why would you not allow caregivers equal rights?” asked Isaac Francisco, an East Grand River Avenue resident who spoke at a recent meeting.

Lansing is like other communities struggling to determine how they’ll manage a 2008 voter-approved state law that permits the sick to use medical marijuana. For any kind of patient-caregiver relationship, parties must have the state’s approval to respectively receive and provide medical marijuana.

In other business, council members hosted a public hearing regarding modifications to the city’s snow and ice removal ordinance.

If approved, the city could remove snow and ice from sidewalks if they remained clogged 24 hours after a major snowfall. But the property owners who didn’t clear their sidewalk would have to pay a minimum of $116, which would be tacked onto their property tax bills.

Property owners would receive two days of notice of the city’s plans to clear sidewalks.

The current policy is to issue tickets and fines for snow that is left on sidewalks. There’s a minimum cost of approximately $50 if cited.

Julie Powers, representing the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, thanked the council for seriously considering changes that were introduced more than a year ago.

“I walk. I bike,” she said. “I want to thank you all truly for being so forward thinking.”

David Riddle, who lives on Kalamazoo Street, called for language that would ensure he wouldn’t have to shovel sidewalks more than once should the city’s plows blow snow over them while clearing the roads.

“I will shovel once per snowfall,” he said.

Council moved the proposed ordinance over to its public services committee.