March 10, 2010

Grand Rapids, MI Passes Medical Marijuana Ordinance

March 10, 2010

The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan passed an ordinance yesterday that is going to change the way medical marijuana is grown and distributed within city limits. The ordinance is a pre-emptive action in lieu of future state regulations. The requirements are as follows:

1. All caretaker/growers are required to obtain a business license for their home based business (no storefronts allowed). I e-mailed the city to see if this implies that the caretaker/grower can operate at a profit, or if they are still bound by state law that bans compensation. If you are required to get a business license, then you are required to report the related finances on tax day. Otherwise a ‘non-profit’ license would be more fitting. I haven’t received a response, but it’s something to think about. The feds don’t like profiting off of medical marijuana, but they also don’t like tax evasion. This ordinance could be setting people up for legal ramifications.

2. The business location cannot be located within a 1,000 ft radius of a school. This is my biggest problem with this ordinance. When you consider public schools, private schools, home schools, community colleges, universities, etc, the available space for medical marijuana can be dismal, if not non-existent. I haven’t seen a map of what areas the ordinance would effect, but I would imagine it is a larger area than people would think.

3. All medicine must be in an enclosed, locked facility with security devices. I have no problem with this requirement; people should do that anyways, there are jackers out there!

4. Only one primary caretaker can service patients (no ‘staff’). This is to get around the loophole of operating as a ‘non-profit,’ while at the same time paying sizeable wages to several friends/family.

5. Caretakers can only service five patients per week. In my home state of Oregon, you can only be a caretaker for yourself and 3 other people, and it works fine here, so I don’t see this being an issue.

6. Only two customers can be at the location at any given time. ??? What purpose does this serve? If you can only have 5 people come in a week, why would it matter if they are there at the same time or not? I can understand residential areas don’t want a lot of foot traffic, but if five people are allowed to come over every week, whether it’s all at once or sporadic, it should really matter. I picture a patient really needing medicine, and in a hurry do to transportation/life constraints, and their grower says they have to wait until someone else leaves before they can come over. Then the patient that is waiting gets the shaft. What a stupid rule.

7. Business hours are restricted to between 7am and 8pm. Again, I can understand that residents don’t want foot traffic at all hours, but there should be some kind of exception to the rule. If a patient is coming from far away, and is late, they shouldn’t be banned from coming to get their medicine because it is 9:03pm. However, considering people are coming over to someone’s house, and not a storefront, it will be virtually impossible to determine the intent of the ‘visitor,’ so there should be ways around this rule.

There was a provision for open inspections upon request from law enforcement, no warrant required. However, this provision was dropped before the final ordinance was approved after the ACLU threatened to file a lawsuit. Could you imagine? You are sitting in your living room, medicating and eating a bowl of cereal, and in come the cops on a mission to sift through your underwear drawer for the fifth time in one day? Thank goodness that provision was dropped; otherwise it would be dangerous to be a medical marijuana caretaker/grower in Grand Rapids! Only time will tell how this ordinance is received and whether or not glitches will arise. Until then, stay tuned and stay active!


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