Fruitport Township officials are set to consider a medical marijuana zoning ordinance next week and, if it’s approved, a proposed business looking to dispense the drug would not be able to operate.
The proposed ordinance would limit the growth and dispensing of medical marijuana as a home occupation, while a growing operation could provide the drug for a registered primary caregiver and up to five patients.
The township board, which conducted the official first reading of the ordinance language last month, is scheduled to grant final approval at its meeting Monday night. The township’s planning commission, with the assistance of township attorney Ron Bultje, drew up the language after months of research and debate.
Township officials earlier this year instituted a nine-month moratorium on medical marijuana operations after a person contacted the township about potentially opening a medical marijuana dispensary near McDonald’s restaurant in the commercial area on Airline Road. The moratorium gave officials more time to consider a local zoning ordinance for medical marijuana.
The basic stance of the state’s medical marijuana law, approved by voters three years ago, is that patients can possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of usable marijuana and have up to 12 plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility or have a registered caregiver grow the drug for them. Many patients use marijuana to ease pain from conditions, including cancer.
“This was a tough ordinance to develop, because we had to keep it within that law,” planning commission Chairman Jeff Jacobs said.
Bultje said he recommended leaving out some provisions that would have been potentially more restrictive.
“My goal is not to have you become a test case,” Bultje told township officials.
“We want to allow what the state law allows for, but we want it to be done discreetly,” said Township Supervisor Brian Werschem.
Under the ordinance, the home occupation would be allowed in single-family dwellings only. The ordinance also calls for only one primary caregiver per household, and the operation must register with the police and fire departments and be more than 1,000 feet from any school or day-care facility, to ensure compliance with federal Drug-Free School Zone requirements.
The township posted the proposed ordinance language on its website at Fruitport Township Michigan | Official Website.
The proposed ordinance states, “The lot shall be open for inspection upon request by the building inspector, zoning administrator, fire department and law enforcement officials for compliance with all applicable laws and rules during the stated hours of operation/use and at such other times as anyone is present on the lot.”
The state marijuana law has produced much confusion for medical marijuana patients, law enforcement officials and local governments. The confusion stems from the law’s language, its conflict with federal law that continues to ban the use and possession of the drug, and some communities trying to regulate or ban its use without being sued.
E-mail: [email protected]