After months of haggling, city officials OK med pot law

By Charles Sercombe

Get your hydroponics and grow lights ready all of you medical marijuana growers and caregivers.

Hamtramck is open for business.

After several months of haggling and fine-tuning, the City Council approved two ordinances and a permit fee schedule to allow caregivers to set up shop and for commercial growing facilities to open their doors.

Before anyone can go into business, you will have to wait two weeks from today (Friday, July 29) for the law to officially go into effect.

There are, of course, restrictions for caregivers operating at home and for caregivers operating in a commercial facility.

For those growing plants for others at home, you must get a city home business license. Plants can only be grown in an area that is no more than 25 percent of the total size of a house.

For example, if the house is 2,000 square feet, the growing area must not exceed a space of 500 square feet.
Caregivers who grow only for themselves do not have to apply for a home business license.

Commercial operators have a whole host of restrictions and requirements, one of them being each growing space has to be sectioned and walled off from another section.

There was debate on whether to prohibit commercial operations from locating on Jos. Campau, the city’s main business district. Councilmember Cathie Gordon had been insisting on that restriction but she received no support.
There was also talk of limiting the number of licenses, but that also fell by the side.

Commercial operators must pay a one-time application fee of $1,500 and a yearly permit fee of $1,500. The yearly fee was initially set at $5,000, which Councilmember Catrina Stackpoole objected to, saying it was “cost-prohibitive.”

That led to a lengthy discussion and a few votes on what fee to set it at.

City Manager Bill Cooper said the yearly fee should be set no lower than $2,500 to cover the record-keeping costs the city’s new zoning law requires. The council decided to require the city to cross-reference patients’ medical marijuana numbers with the state to make sure unqualified people are not purchasing marijuana.

The state law covering medical marijuana does not require local communities to take this step.

Councilmember Stackpoole said it was included to prevent illegal operations from starting up.

In past votes on the subject the council voted unanimously in favor of the ordinances. This time around, however, Councilmember Shahab Ahmed had second thoughts and voted against the laws. Ahmed said he became concerned that illegal operators would set up shop and that shootings would erupt.

The issue is far from settled outside of Hamtramck. Some state and federal officials say marijuana, whether it’s considered “medical” or otherwise, is still illegal in the eyes of federal law.

Maybe you can sing this to the judge if you are ever busted:

“Oh, have you ever met that funny reefer man?
Oh, have you ever met that funny reefer man?
If he says he’ll swim to China
And he’ll sell you South Carolina
Then you know you’re talking to that reefer man.
Have you ever met that funny reefer man?
Have you ever met that funny reefer man?
If he says he walks the ocean
Every time he takes the notion
Then you know you’re talking to that reefer man.
Have you ever met a funny reefer man?
Have you ever met a funny reefer man?
If he takes a sudden mania
Wants to give you Pennsylvania
Then you know you’re talking to that reefer man.”

Reefer Man – Baron Lee and the Blue Rhythm Band

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