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Daily Headlines




by David T. Young, Special to the Kalamazoo Gazette, (Source:Kalamazoo Gazette)

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02 Mar 2011

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KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP -- It was just the first reading for a proposed local medical marijuana ordinance Monday night, but the Kalamazoo Township Board of Trustees was warned it may face legal problems in the near future.


Joe Cain, chief executive officer of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, told board members, "This ordinance is so far out it's going to get attention."


Noting the township, like so many other local municipalities, is grappling with financial problems, he added, "You pass this medical marijuana ordinance and you're going to need more money... It's going to happen. The question is, do you want to be part of the legal process?"


Cain was among about 20 people in the audience who read the proposed ordinance just before the meeting.


The measure was passed on to the township board after being recommended last month by the Planning Commission after input from a special committee.


The first reading was accepted and a public hearing and second reading is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 14.


The biggest issue appeared to be the proposed ordinance's insistence that qualified caregivers for more than one registered patient or only themselves be required to operate out of a facility in commercial or industrial zoning rather than residential.


Township Attorney Kenneth Sparks, who prepared the ordinance wording, said the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, approved by 63 percent of voters in a state-wide ballot issue in November 2008, "is silent about where within the community it can be used."


The township Planning Commission has recommended larger grow operations be confined to commercial and industrial areas.


"The Planning Commission wanted to be clear about where it's allowed and where it's not allowed," Sparks explained.


But Salman Ali, a local resident whose marijuana plants were confiscated by police last year, said such zoning rules could create financial hardship on caregivers for more than one patient because they may not have sufficient capital to buy or rent a commercial or industrial location.


Ali also said he is disappointed that "not one member of the medical marijuana community has been contacted by the Planning Department. Why aren't we part of the process?"


Others contended the proposed ordinance simply throws up too many roadblocks for people who want to use or provide a substance legal now under state law for medical purposes.


Trustee Mark Miller, who also serves on the Planning Commission and was on a special committee that first put together the proposed ordinance, said, "I've seen it through recent phases of this process and I'd like to stress there was no single comment that had indicated 'Oh, how I wish this would go away.' There is no intention to restrict lawful use."


When asked how many people attended the Planning Commission's public hearing on the ordinance, Miller replied none.


The proposed ordinance would allow a residential grow operation only if it serves one patient or the user himself or herself, except in cases of hospital or hospice care.


Such grow operations also could not be closer than 1,000 feet from a school or day care facility, no closer than 500 feet from a church or place of worship, no closer than 500 feet from a public park, or 1,000 feet of another primary caregiver facility.


Those who have registered as caregivers with local authorities will have up to six months to mover their operations if they are serving more than one patient.


State law permits caregivers to use a maximum of 12 marijuana plants per patient and to have up to five patients. Though the law was passed more than two years ago, the state Legislature since has left it up to local governments to decide the rules, which vary among communities.


The cities of Wyoming and Livonia, for example, have prohibited use, possession and sale of marijuana regardless of state law because federal law forbids it. Both cities likely will face lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union as a result.


Michigan is one of 15 states that have passed medical marijuana laws that conflict with federal guidelines, but the Obama administration has indicated it will not prosecute these medical marijuana cases.



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DA warns Oakland's marijuana grow law could land City Council in jail

By Paul T. Rosynsky

Oakland Tribune

Posted: 12/17/2010 05:51:41 PM PST

Updated: 12/17/2010 08:13:48 PM PST



OAKLAND -- Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley entered the fray over the city's new law regulating large-scale commercial marijuana grow operations this week, warning that the law is probably illegal and could land city officials in jail.

In a letter to Mayor-elect Jean Quan, which was also delivered to members of the City Council, O'Malley cautioned that the city's attempt to tax and regulate grow operations for medical marijuana would most likely be considered illegal under state law and result in prosecution by her office.

"The Alameda County District Attorney's office makes the point that enactment of this ordinance does not provide a defense "... to any criminal charge," O'Malley wrote. "In other words, notwithstanding pronouncements by city officials or the enactment of the ordinance, the prosecuting agency in Alameda County is not providing any assurances that activities authorized by the ordinance, but not authorized under state law or federal law, are permissible."

O'Malley's letter was sent to the city in response to the council's approval in July to license and regulate four large-scale commercial pot farms to produce medical marijuana for Oakland's dispensaries. The goal, council members said, was to move the illegal and often dangerous cultivation out of private garages, basements and attics and into the open, where it can be regulated.

It also follows an announcement by City Attorney John Russo last month


in which he warned the council that law enforcement officials in Washington, D.C., and locally "have expressed concerns with the path Oakland is taking, which is in violation of law."

Russo also refused to sign the commercial cultivation ordinance, even though his office helped craft the law.

Even before the council approved the new law in July, concerns were raised that allowing such large-scale operations violates the state's medical marijuana laws, which place specific limits on how much pot can be grown by patients and how that pot is distributed.

In her two-page letter to the council, O'Malley cites two cases that were decided by the California Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court that found that even storefront medical marijuana dispensaries were illegal because they could not be considered primary caregivers.

As a result, O'Malley wrote, those growing marijuana and city officials who helped put them in business by drafting the grow law could be held criminally liable.

"Persons should not rely solely upon pronouncements by city officials or enactment of the ordinance as proving any legal or equitable defense to criminal prosecution," O'Malley wrote. "Nor should persons rely on pronouncements of city officials or the ordinance as an accurate interpretation of the state laws regarding marijuana cultivation, possession, sale, etc., and/or the defenses available to those charges."

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who with Councilmember Larry Reid authored the ordinance, was not available for comment Friday, but her spokesman said Kaplan was open to making changes to the city grow law when the council meets next week to discuss the legal concerns.

"She is open to making changes to strengthen the city's position on the issue," said Jason Overman, Kaplan's communications director. "She takes very seriously the legal dynamics that surround the city's ordinance."

Quan was unavailable for comment, and O'Malley refused to make a statement about her letter.

It remained unclear Friday why O'Malley decided to warn city officials about her concerns. O'Malley even admitted in her letter that her office "has a long-standing policy of declining to issue advisory opinions as to the legality of any particular conduct."

Although O'Malley, a cancer survivor, said she "certainly understands the benefits for those in need of medicinal use of marijuana in various forms," she cautioned the city that moving ahead of state law could land officials behind bars.

"It remains an open question whether public officers or public employees who aid and abet or conspire to violate state or federal laws in furtherance of a city ordinance are exempt from criminal liability," O'Malley wrote. "The District Attorney's Office will uphold and enforce the laws of this state. As is the policy in this office, alleged violations of the law will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis."


they have probably issued same warning countrywide -hence the opposition to do the will of the people here in MICHIGAN! call to arms-call the whithouse to disaprove of these tactics... disingenuous fear mongering and a waste of taxpayers dollars!


WHITEHOUSE COMMENT LINE: Comments: (202)-456-1111

Edited by Angry LIBERAL
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Now is the time we need to stand together. The storm is coming we need to fight on both local and state levels. I don't know how many patients I talk to everyday that have benefited from our mmma act. Yet so few of them actually want to step up. We can't complain about what they do to our law if we are not willing to stand up to defend it. This is now a civil rights issue people. They are doing everything in their power to arrest us, imprison us, restrict us, discriminate against us, yet we sit here take it. We are under attack on a Federal, State, and local level. The only way we can fight back is by hitting the streets and making are voices heard. Come to to these protests and city meetings every time you hear about one. We will do everything we can to preserve our law which was voted in by 63 percent of our citizens

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Even the 'little' things that we might be able to do will help.


Tell a friend... get people 'involved'.


If we had the 'money' we could probably 'buy' what we need from Lansing, Washington and our 'local' politicians.


But the 'only' things we have in our favor are our 'voices' and 'votes'.


And so far they are trying to ignore our 'votes'.

Edited by greenbuddha
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