2010 January 22 Zoning and The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act New Law in Effect

One year after the implementation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), many communities throughout the state are in a zoning muddle. Under the MMA, persons certified as having certain debilitating medical conditions may obtain an identification card which shields them from arrest, prosecution or penalty for the medical use of marijuana. The MMA also provides for “primary caregivers” who assist with a patient’s medical use of marijuana. Unlike some other states, the MMA does not provide for dispensaries or retail sales operations.

Neighborhood Impacts

In our experience of assisting community leaders with developing regulations for medical marijuana facilities, there are several concerns – primarily regarding caregiver operations, commercialization of medical marijuana, conversion of neighborhoods into distribution centers, and the impact on schools, churches, and residential districts. Communities are also concerned about how to deal with dispensaries when they are proposed.

Zoning Options

McKenna planners can explore a variety of approaches with the Planning Commission and elected officials regarding regulation of medical marijuana facilities. Some communities impose an outright ban, based in part on the fact that federal law still prohibits marijuana possession. At the other end of the spectrum are communities that view such facilities as economically beneficial and a potential revenue source. Also, responding to the uncertainty associated with these new uses, some communities have imposed a temporary moratorium.

Planning commission Assistance

McKenna professional planners have the capability to assist your Planning Commission and elected and administrative officials in exploring and recommending which regulatory alternatives, under the new act, will work best for your community. Call your McKenna planner or Chris Doozan, AICP, PCP toll free at 888-226-4326 for assistance.