In a recent ruling, the Michigan Supreme Court reinstated local municipalities’ authority to regulate Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) caregiver and patient plant cultivation. In the opinion, DeRuiter v. Byron Township, published on April 27, 2020 and signed by all seven justices, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed and remanded a Kent County circuit court ruling that Byron Township’s zoning ordinance directly conflicted with MMMA provisions and was preempted by the law. Up until this reversal, a published Court of Appeals opinion on the same case ruled that local zoning regulations could not apply to MMMA caregiver and patient plant cultivation.
The Supreme Court’s decision means that local governments may regulate medical marijuana cultivation by MMMA licensed caregivers and patients through zoning ordinances and other regulatory ordinances if:
- The municipality does not prohibit or penalize the cultivation of medical marijuana; and
- The municipality does not impose regulations that are unreasonable or in contradiction to MMMA standards.
The bottom line—if your community wants to establish zoning ordinance standards for medical marijuana caretaker cultivation, you may proceed with amending your zoning and regulatory ordinances with rules that do not conflict with MMMA regulations.
It’s presumed that most caregivers and patients growing their own marijuana for patient use follow the MMMA spirit of compassionate and neighborly care. “However, many cities, villages and townships were unable to address MMMA cultivation abuse that negatively impacted neighbors with noise, bad odors, glare and increased traffic. Now, each community can set its own rules as long as they do not conflict with the state law,” says Doug Plachcinski, Principal Planner at McKenna.
Plachcinski recommends that local governments commence their policy discussions with a data-informed and systematic approach. Communities interested in regulating caregivers and patient cultivators—working with their planner and attorney—should follow these steps:
- Review how medical marijuana cultivation, or similar uses, are addressed in your Master Plan, how they fit within the broad community character, how they can result in the compassionate care promoted by the MMMA and how they reflect your community’s values;
- Decide what kind of process you want to follow for permitting medical marijuana (zoning permit, certificate of occupancy, etc.) to promote safety and reduce negative impacts; and
- Make sure that your regulations do not conflict with the MMMA.
Our planners are working together to deliver cutting-edge resources so communities can implement zoning ordinance changes post DeRuiter v. Byron Township.
Contact your McKenna planner or Doug Plachcinski at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888.226.4326 for more information. For more great ideas about community planning and design, visit mcka.com and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.