Archived Story

Twp. approves marijuana ordinance

Published 1:33pm Thursday, October 27, 2011

MILTON TOWNSHIP — Milton Township officials are hoping to tighten up the rules on medical marijuana with an ordinance implementing restrictions on the growing of the drug by cardholders.
The ordinance, which was approved by the township board last month, is in response to Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act, approved by voters in 2008. Under the state law, patients approved by the state for a medical marijuana card can keep or grow the drug. Approved caregivers can assist up to five patients with up to 12 plants per patient.
The main provision of the township ordinance is that a licensed caregiver cannot grow within 1,000 feet of a school, church, youth center, day care facility or college. It also requires that caregivers apply for a permit to grow the drug, and all marijuana must be kept in an enclosed, locked facility.
The ordinance also bans having multiple primary caregivers within a single family household and outlaws all advertising signs at a marijuana growing operation.
Milton Township Supervisor Robert Benjamin said it’s an issue that was being discussed at the county level and among other area municipalities. When the issue came up several months ago, the Milton Township board elected to pass the responsibility of drafting an ordinance to the planning commission.
“I wanted to kind of keep the board out of it so it wasn’t political,” Benjamin said.
Zoning Administrator Paul Sniadecki said the township issued a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana operations in March, while the commission researched the issue and began developing an ordinance.
A subcommittee was formed and listened to local law enforcement, the Compassion Club of Cass County and township residents on the issue. There were a number of public hearings, including one before the ordinance passed.
“All interest groups were involved,” Sniadecki said.
The majority of residents of Milton Township favored the Medical Marijuana Act based on the vote in 2008, Sniadecki said.
“We just wanted to see that it was implemented in the right way,” he said.
Benjamin said the ordinance is important to tighten up the broad state medical marijuana law.
“From my perspective, it sets a standard where there this type of activity is allowed,” he said. “We don’t want it right next to a school. That’s where these zoning regulations are important and why each community needs to spend a lot of time to get feedback on this issue.”
The City of Niles has a similar ordinance on the books, which it approved in May 2009. In July, Dowagiac passed a medical marijuana ordinance, which included a provision that requires patients and caregivers to buy a zoning permit to grow the plant.

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