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New Baltimore Still Mulling Medical Marijuana Position

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The city of New Baltimore's marijuana moratorium is on the brink of expiring once again and council still hasn't voted on an ordinance that could allow the substance to be used for medical purposes.


At the July 9 council meeting, an ordinance that would allow the distribution, use, sale and cultivation of the substance in accordance with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act was tabled once again. This time, the request came after New Baltimore Police Chief Tim Wiley said he had questions about the ordinance and asked that he, the fire chief and building inspector have input.


One concern Wiley expressed over the proposed ordinance was what rights a tenant had in a rental property if they were a registered medical marijuana caregiver. He questioned if a person was considered a resident if they were simply a tenant in a rental home or if their driver's license had to indicate they live within the city.


"I want to make sure the ordinance has some teeth to it," he said.


Wiley said he thought Fire Chief Ken Lawfield and Greg Nikkel, building official, should also have input in the ordinance, in large part because of the hazards grow lights and other growing equipment pose.


Councilwoman Susan Burkhardt also thought Nikkel's input would be beneficial to the city if the ordinance were to pass because of the damage that could potentially be done to homes if a grow operation is not properly set up.


"There needs to be some inspection and teeth to that," she said. "We need to address the damage to homes growing marijuana can do."


According to the tabled ordinance, no single parcel in a residentially zoned area would be legally allowed to have more than 36 marijuana plants.


While Wiley expressed concerns, he also pointed out a medical marijuana ordinance in the city could be beneficial to the police department. He said with such an ordinance it would cut down on the costs of his officers tracking down every lead on a possible grow operation in the city.


City Attorney Jack Dolan added if this ordinance were passed there is also the possibility card holders and care givers would have to register with the city and police department. Dolan said he knows this raises some concerns regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, but added medical marijuana is still federally illegal so the city could use that as protection. Continued...


However, none of this will move forward if the ordinance is not voted on. The medical marijuana moratorium expires Aug. 1 and Clerk Marcia Shinska said if the revised ordinance is brought to the council by the July 23 meeting, she will add consideration of another medical marijuana moratorium to the agenda.


Before the council unanimously voted to table the ordinance again, Councilwoman Florence Hayman stated county law enforcement officials, such as Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and members of COMET, are against an ordinance allowing the presence of medical marijuana.


Councilmen Jeff Christie and Ken Butler voiced their opinions as well, stating Michigan voters chose to allow medical marijuana in this state and those that are ill should have the option to legally use the substance.


"Maybe there are people who want to follow the rules when they get sick," Butler said.



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