Next week, a very important issue will be addressed at the city’s Planning Commission meeting on Aug.11. The question of how the city should handle the medical marijuana industry’s infusion into Hamtramck will be answered.
Before going into details about the city’s proposed ordinance, it’s important to give some background information on the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, as well as the state law regarding the issue. The plant has been used for its medicinal properties for nearly 4800 years by all cultures and walks of life. It is possible to administer the plant’s active ingredient THC in a number of ways, including eating, drinking, smoking and vaporization. The use of medical marijuana has been shown to be effective in the treatment of nausea, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, asthma, pain and glaucoma. It has also shown to be effective in helping a number of other disorders.
Under guidelines set forth by the state and agreed upon by voters, residents of the state of Michigan are now legally allowed to be certified to both grow and consume marijuana. People designated as caregivers are allowed to grow and provide their services to up to five others (in addition to themselves) and those certified to consume it can possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.
According to local officials involved in drafting Hamtramck’s proposed ordinance, under the new law the city would limit the number of people a caregiver can provide for to one in residential areas. Anyone wishing to provide for more than one patient would be required to do so from a commercial property. The ordinance would also include provisions for allowing dispensaries.
The city should be applauded for embracing the emerging medical marijuana industry, but it shouldn’t start patting itself on the back just yet. By limiting the amount of patients a caregiver can provide for, the city is also limiting its residents’ opportunities to participate in a viable business.
Nobody has to be reminded of how bad the economy is and how few jobs there are. But it is worth mentioning that medical marijuana is potentially a billion dollar industry for the state of Michigan. By restricting the growth of marijuana in residential areas, the city stands to lose out on a significant amount of tax revenue.
In addition to the economic impact the city would experience by allowing people in residential areas to provide marijuana for more than one patient, the practice would also open up the industry for ordinary people to benefit as well. Many people who could otherwise afford to grow the plant in their own residence may not be able to cover the cost of a commercial space and would thus be prevented from participating in the industry by the proposed ordinance. And more growers would mean more access to the medicine for patients.
There are some who will say that growing marijuana in houses will lead to an increase in crime, odor and risk of fire. However, it should be noted that with the proper safety inspections (which is a provision of the ordinance that The Review agrees with), a marijuana grow room is no more hazardous than the average kitchen. Odor control devices can minimize any excess smells, and with the proper security and discretion houses growing marijuana can blend in with houses that are not.
Citizens of Hamtramck should be aware of the issues that affect them, and this one can definitely have an impact. Before the city decides to limit the places where the plant can be grown, there should be a significant discussion on the pros and cons that would accompany any new ordinances. Show up to the Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 11 and let your voice be heard.