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Zoning Ordinance For Marijuana Dispensaries Approved In Vanderbilt

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VANDERBILT — Vanderbilt was the first community in Otsego County to see a medical marijuana dispensary open within its village limits last year.


Last month, Vanderbilt had the distinction of becoming the first community in the county to create a land use zone restricting where such establishments may set up shop.


By a 4-3 vote, village council members approved the ordinance March 5 to establish a geographic zone where primary caregiver facilities for the distribution of marijuana between a caregiver and patient may be located.


Village attorney Bryan Graham, with the Bellaire law firm of Young, Graham, Elsenheimer and Wendling PC, said the ordinance is a land use issue and does not in any way advocate for or against the statewide voter approved use of marijuana for medical purposes passed in November 2008.


“Just as you have zoning for where commercial business and industry, and even adult businesses such as bookstores, may be located in your community, I believe you can zone where marijuana dispensaries may be located,” Graham said.


Until medical marijuana was made legal by voters, Graham said communities did not have the need to zone enterprises such as dispensaries, and Vanderbilt’s ordinance was its reaction to dealing with the issue.


Graham said some communities have chosen to allow dispensaries, which allow caregiver to patient transactions, to be dispersed throughout the community and some have chosen to have them concentrated through zoning — the option Vanderbilt chose to pursue.


Others, Graham said, have chosen to ban dispensaries from their communities, an option he had advised the village council not to pursue because of the possibility of drawn-out and expensive legal challenges to an outright community ban.


In late March 2011, about one month after Vanderbilt Holistic Apothecary owner Brad Worde opened the first such facility within the village limits on Old 27 South, the Vanderbilt village council and members of the village planning commission began discussions with Graham to impose limits on such businesses.


In contrast, Gaylord city officials did not initiate efforts to zone or restrict the number or locations of medical marijuana dispensaries that opened in Gaylord last year and currently does not have restrictions on where the businesses may set up shop.


Vanderbilt village clerk Elizabeth Haus, who said she had worked closely with the planning commission on the ordinance, noted commission members had put a lot of work into amending the village’s current zoning ordinance to address the issue of medical dispensaries.


The resulting ordinance limits dispensaries to be located on Old 27 from Main Street south to the village limits. (See related story.)


Worde, the owner of Vanderbilt’s only medical marijuana dispensary, has seen the new ordinance and said his business is following it “to the letter of the law. We want to fit into the community.”


Vanderbilt village president Don Posgate said Worde’s business, opened prior to the new ordinance, was grandfathered in and allowed to stay where it is currently located.


“As long as it is operated legally, I don’t have a problem with it,” Posgate said. “Someone else could open in the zone, but they would have to meet distance requirements and all of the other restrictions in the ordinance.”


Posgate noted if Vanderbilt Holistic Apothecary applied today to open at its location, it would not meet zoning requirements because of being located too close to a church.


Graham said because the village chose to make medical marijuana dispensaries a land use activity issue as to where they may be located, the zoning ordinance should stand up to legal interpretations of the Medical Marihuana act approved by voters.


The six-page ordinance allows qualified cardholding medical marijuana patients to use/consume and grow marijuana for medical purposes within their place of dwelling in any zoning district in the village.


However, Graham indicated the ordinance only allows dispensing of medical marijuana between a caregiver and patient to be transacted within the medical marijuana district at approved dispensaries.



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I don't think they are using the AG 's interpretation of CG and pt connection. any CG to any patient is the only reason that makes sense to me. If your interpretation is correct Cedar than it is effectively a ban as no one opens a store front for 5 patients.

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My understanding from the article (and I think what CG was saying) is that it sounds like the village is saying that caregivers can only transfer from within a dispensary, and that they can transfer to any patient. So it's like they banned caregiving from home, but said dispensaries are ok. Is that a first in Michigan?


"Graham indicated the ordinance only allows dispensing of medical marijuana between a caregiver and patient to be transacted within the medical marijuana district at approved dispensaries."

Edited by legacy
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Grow at home, deliver at the brick and mortar, is that a fair summation?


I think your explanation makes the most sense so far.


I have no idea how other dispensaries work. Would the dispensary just be an empty facility for fm-like transactions? Having desks and chairs, but not storing any inventory overnight (unless the owner was a cg)? Allowing caregivers to transport medicine in on each visit? I suppose the disp could dictate which cg's are allowed in.

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