A Lansing City Council committee is looking to possibly place a moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries opening as it continues to work on a new zoning ordinance that would regulate dispensaries and compassionate care clubs.
At-Large Councilwoman Carol Wood, who heads Council’s Public Safety Committee, said that a resolution could be ready for a moratorium as early as June 8, the date of the committee’s next meeting. The resolution would then have to be passed by the entire Council.
Wood said that the moratorium would only affect commercial for-profit dispensaries — not compassionate care clubs, which are sometimes nonprofits where medical marijuana patients gather to use their medicine in a safe setting.
The Public Safety Committee has been working on a medical marijuana zoning ordinance for several weeks, but in the meantime, dispensaries have been opening around Lansing.
“Part of the reasoning is that (with the new zoning ordinance), there’s the potential for dispensaries being allowed, but there could be regulations as to what they look like,” Wood said. “It’s better for us to make sure we’re doing it right the first time than have a number of (dispensaries) popping up while we’re working on legislation, and then them having to conform.”
Wood compared the moratorium to one Council in 2008 placed on cell phone towers as it worked on a regulatory ordinance.
City Attorney Brig Smith said he was concerned about a moratorium on dispensaries because it would require a definition of what a dispensary is.
“If you don’t properly define the conduct you seek to have a moratorium on, then the city faces liability,” he said. “The moratorium sounds nice, it sounds simple, but it may be too simple. I need to know what exactly is the conduct you’re seeking to prohibit.”
Wood said that the Public Safety Committee had not come up with a definition of “dispensary,” but in her opinion, they are a “commercial entity” — as opposed to a nonprofit compassionate care club.
Robin Schneider, head of the Capital City Compassion Club, is planning to open a storefront at 2010 E. Michigan Ave. in June for her club. She attended the Public Safety Committee meeting and said that she’ll set up shop exactly according to what the city says. The Capital City Compassion Club would be a nonprofit but was planning to have a medical marijuana farmers market on Saturdays.
“That will have to be tightened up,” she said.