The Wolverine Lake Village Council approved on Wednesday, May 11 an extension of a moratorium on the sale, cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana in the village for another six months.
The moratorium will now expire on Dec. 14, 2011.
This is the second time the Village Council has extended the moratorium, as members wait to see how the state will handle the ambiguity that local officials say hinder any crafting of a local medical marijuana ordinance.
“While we are working with the Planning Commission and village attorney to get closure on this, the issue is such a moving target, so we want some recommended approaches on what is enforceable,” said Village Council President John Magee.
The use of medical marijuana in Michigan was passed by state voters in 2008. Since the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act has been criticized for its ambiguity on some key issues, such as what constitutes a bona fide doctor-patient relationship and the conditions under which marijuana cultivation is allowed.
Unless clarifying legislation is enacted, enforcement of the law will largely depend on how Michigan courts rule in lawsuits filed by prosecutors and patients.
“It’s not an easy subject and the state law is not well defined,” said Planning Commission Liaison Brian Nedrow. “We don’t want it in residential neighborhoods so we’re deliberating on it as far as where dispensaries should allowed, in what zones.”
The recommendation to extend the moratorium was forwarded to the Village Council by the Planning Commission and the village attorney, who currently sits on Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper’s task force on the issue.
“Cooper is trying to get a standard approach to make recommendations to municipalities,” Magee said. “The moratorium gives the Planning Commission time to come up with a local ordinance to cover all aspects of growing and selling medical marijuana. We want to come up with a reasonable approach to regulating it locally under state law.”
The council first imposed a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana last July.
At some point, the Planning Commission was expected to either craft a final zoning ordinance amendment that specifically outlined areas within the village where medical marijuana can be legally grown and sold, or determine that the issue falls under the current land use zoning ordinance already in place.
To that end, planners reviewed several ordinances on the books, but the language was rife with loopholes.
“We’ve looked at several approaches like Walled Lake’s, but ours would be more concerned with residential businesses or possibly zoning approaches,” Magee said.
While there have been several local ordinances adopted throughout the state, Magee said he is uncertain of how they will stand up in court and how many will provide useful regulation.