Kids in the Hall
|By Andy Balaskovitz|
The Lansing City Council approves a moratorium on new medical marijuana businesses — but not before 46 new ones sneak in at the last minuteTuesday, Dec. 7 — A flood of new medical marijuana businesses came forward literally minutes before the Lansing City Council unanimously approved a moratorium against them.
As of last Monday, the city was aware of 19 locations using nonresidential property to grow, distribute, store or use cannabis in the city. That number grew to 65 after City Clerk Chris Swope and members of the public rattled off 46 new locations at Monday’s meeting.
Here’s the list of those who identified themselves as “in operation”:
Swope read off the first 39 businesses above to be grandfathered in, then was followed by five members of the public who wished to add the other seven. First Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt made a point of order to not allow any more businesses to come forward after Swope read them off, citing a 5 p.m. deadline Monday, but that was rejected after Swope found no such deadline in the public notice.
In a last-minute amendment to the ordinance, At-Large Councilwoman Carol Wood made a motion to change the sunset date of the moratorium from one year to July 1, 2011. That passed unanimously and swayed Fourth Ward Councilwoman Jessica Yorko and Second Ward Councilwoman Tina Houghton to vote yes on the moratorium.
Yorko and Houghton said during the meeting that anything longer than roughly six months would be unacceptable. City Council President A’Lynne Robinson and Vice President Kathie Dunbar were absent from the meeting.
The public hearing before the Council vote brought 17 comments either supporting the one-year moratorium, a shortened moratorium or no ban at all.
Nicole Tlachac, an assistant prosecutor for Ingham County, speaking for Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III, supported a one-year moratorium.
“The current unregulated state in Lansing may be harmful to our community,” she said. “This gives us valuable time to have meaningful discussions.”
Jack Chiu, a patient, caregiver and owner of the Mid-Michigan Patients Group, agreed there needs to be some regulation of these businesses, but a moratorium longer than six months is unacceptable.
“It’s best if the time is kept as short as possible,” he said.
But Thomas Lavigne, an attorney who spoke on behalf of the newly formed The Herbal Connection, 4314 S. Cedar St., said any moratorium is unnecessary.
“I encourage you to go ahead and regulate it,” he said. “But Section 2 (of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act) makes this a patients rights issue — not a criminal one. These patients need to access their medicine.”
The ordinance was put into immediate effect after the 6-0 vote.