JACKSON, MI -- A proposed city ordinance that would restrict the growth and use of medical marijuana could end up in court if the Jackson City Council approves it, advocates of medical marijuana said Tuesday.
Joe Cain, owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Jackson, predicted that a civil rights attorney would sue.
"It's going to cost the city tens of thousands of dollars," Cain told members of the city affairs committee Tuesday. "That's not what we want. We want to work with the city."
Later in the meeting, the committee voted 2-1 to recommend the Jackson City Council approve a medical marijuana ordinance that says qualifying patients and primary caregivers would be allowed to grow and use the drug only in their homes.
City Attorney Julius Giglio has said that would ban existing or proposed dispensaries that provide medical marijuana to patients at businesses.
Such a ban could affect Cain's establishment, the Jackson County Farmers Market, 135 W. Pearl St. His business is not affiliated with the nearby Jackson Farmers Market that sells produce.
Roger Maufort, director of the Jackson Compassion Club, 1620 E. Michigan Ave., which also provides medical marijuana to patients, said he would consider suing over the city ordinance.
Michigan voters in 2008 legalized medical marijuana. Since then many local governments have tried to regulate medical marijuana and judges have attempted to interpret the law in several court cases. One case is going to be taken up by the Michigan Supreme Court.
Voting to recommend the ordinance were city council members Carl Breeding and Laura Dwyer Schlecte. Voting no was Councilman Daniel Greer, who said he wanted a complete ban of medical marijuana in the city.
"The reason for (banning medical marijuana) is I believe this is a policy issue," Greer said. "And as much as I feel compassion for the patients out there, this is a very confusing law that was passed. I think it was vaguely written."
While the Legislature attempts to clear up the law, Greer said, a ban is appropriate. "In order to help clear up any confusion in the city of Jackson, particularly for the police department, our chief and his officers, I think this is the best way to handle this, to defer to the federal law at this time.
"It doesn't mean that patients won't be able to take the medication in their homes," Greer said.
Breeding said he does not want too many restrictions. He said he "reluctantly" voted for the home grow and home use ordinance.
Another ordinance that has been considered would allow medical marijuana to be grown and used in certain areas in commercial and industrial zoning districts. Breeding backs that option.
"People have been smoking it for years and will be even after we do this," Breeding said. "Let them do it if it's for medical purposes."
Maufort said after Tuesday's meeting that he was glad the committee didn't recommend banning medical marijuana in the city.
"No, it's not a victory," he said of the recommendation. "It's not a complete loss. Again, patients need to have safe access and they need to have medicine when they need it, when their registration card gets approved."
The Jackson City Council likely will consider the ordinance next Tuesday.
Giglio said the council will have to extend a temporary moratorium, which is set to expire Aug. 10, on any new medical marijuana establishments.
The ordinance requires final approval at a second City Council meeting, the Planning Commission also must hold a public hearing and the ordinance wouldn't be effective until 30 days after it is passed, Giglio said. That does not leave enough time to meet the Aug. 10 deadline, he said.
It was unclear what action the city might take to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries if the ordinance is approved.
"After the ordinance is adopted, we'll look at our enforcement options," Giglio said.
Maufort said there are four existing dispensaries in the city. He is asking the city to allow them to continue to operate under a "grandfather clause" until the Supreme Court rules or state lawmakers pass legislation that would clarify medical marijuana rules.