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Lansing Editorial Re: Zoning

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Lansing is doing the right thing by bringing medical marijuana care-givers under its ordinance for home businesses. Doing so will allow the city to set requirements that protect neighborhoods, preserve public safety and also provide a clear framework for those choosing this relatively new type of business.


Since Michigan passed its medical marijuana ballot proposal in 2008, patients have been able to seek a doctor's approval and then register with the state. Doing so makes them eligible to either grow plants for themselves or find a state registered care-giver, who will grow the plants and prepare the marijuana for use.


But what the ballot proposal didn't do was create a structure for dealing with a wide array of businesses that support the new medical marijuana industry, such as medical marijuana dispensaries or home-based medical marijuana caregivers.


Lansing is working on ordinances that address both the dispensaries, which would locate on commercially zoned property, and the home-based care-givers, who would be permitted to operate in residential neighborhoods, but only if they meet certain criteria.


While there has been concern in some parts that local government or local law enforcement would make it difficult for medical marijuana entrepreneurs, Lansing's approach to date has been right on the mark.


As City Attorney Brig Smith recently commented about the home occupation ordinance:


"The goal is to regulate this occupation just like we would regulate others, whether the home occupation is growing tomato plants or medical marijuana."


That's more than reasonable. And a review of the ordinance finds it fairly straight forward as well.


The ordinance prohibits such businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of public or private schools, colleges, youth centers, arcades and public swimming pools. That's reasonable, given that marijuana is still a controlled substance. The ordinance also parallels state rules in requiring that marijuana be kept in an enclosed, locked space.


The majority of Michiganians voted in favor of medical marijuana, wanting this treatment option for those who may benefit. Lansing is on the right path to create a clear set of laws for entrepreneurs involved in serving these patients while at the same time protecting its residents.


An LSJ editorial

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