Pot law raises more questions than answers

By Ian Perrotta

At last Tuesday’s (Aug. 24) City Council meeting, the council decided it would pass on grass.

Or, rather, it will wait to decide what zoning law to adopt that will regulate where medical marijuana can be grown here.

Along with the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan came a whole set of questions on how to control the growing industry, as well as what exactly the role is that cities should play in regulating it. For the past three months, council members have been working on finding the answers to those questions and others.

The solution, according to an ordinance proposed by Councilmember Tom Jankowski, is a zoning ordinance that would limit the areas of Hamtramck where the plant can be grown and sold to areas outside of residential districts. He says that this would allow the city to have greater oversight of the overall industry.

However, since the draft proposal has circulated, several questions have been raised. At last Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilmember Catrina Stackpoole had reservations over the law, saying that she felt it may be too restrictive by not giving patients an adequate opportunity to procure their medication. That, according to Stackpoole, is in direct conflict with the law, which she says was written not for economic reasons but medicinal purposes.

“I think the spirit of the law is for patients to have the right to access,” she said. “I’m concerned that forcing production to be in commercial areas will prohibit people from accessing the medication.”

To counter her argument, Jankowski said that Stackpoole was looking at the issue through too narrow of a perspective. He said that patients would have other opportunities to obtain their medication, and that the point of his ordinance was to keep the growth of marijuana away from neighborhoods.

“The assumption shouldn’t be made that the only access the patient will have will be in Hamtramck,” he said. “Quite frankly, I didn’t want to see it in the residential areas. I wanted to see it in the commercial district.”

After further back-and-forth debate over the merit of the proposed ordinance, as well as a discussion of the legal interpretation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, Stackpoole said that she didn’t think there was a solid enough understanding of the law for the council to make any decisions concerning the matter.

She also said that on Sept. 21 she was scheduled to attend a medical marijuana seminar hosted by the Michigan Municipal League, suggesting the issue be tabled until after that meeting. But because any new ordinance must be read three times before it can be voted on, it was agreed that the first reading of the law would be read on Sept. 14. That would give her a chance to attend the meeting before the second reading.

It seems the one thing that everyone could agree on was that more time was needed to hash out the ordinance. But if City Attorney Jim Allen’s explanation to Stackpoole about the deficiencies of the proposed ordinance is any indication of where the issue is headed, it may be one long, bad trip.

“What we have here is an imperfect draft,” said Allen. “We’re still operating in the dark, so to speak, because the State of Michigan hasn’t passed any precedents relating to the issue. I won’t sit here and tell you with any certainty that I know how this will play out.”

3 Responses to Pot law raises more questions than answers

  1. Kevin Curran

    September 5, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Is this all Hamtramyck has to worry about???

  2. Dave

    September 23, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    This is in regards to most of the medical marijuana articles. It seems very illogical to be trying to regulate medication for a patient. Yes, it is understandable to regulate hydrocodone(vicodon), other pain killers, ect. because these are easily abused and can led to a death. Marijuana on the other hand has never had any reported cases of a death caused by overdose. Just as tobacco, marijuana when smoked in excessive amounts can lead to death after decades.

    The Hamtramck city council and whoever else is in cahoots with figuring the medical marijuana laws seems to be trying to make a quick buck. This seems like a scam to try and squeeze out more money from patients. Maybe it’s just me or does this seem a little corrupt? Along with zoning certain areas such as storefronts or commercial buildings, which many in Hamtramck happened to be owned by a local member of the city council. So it might just be a coincidence but when city council is making laws that are helping themselves out financially, that seems wrong. Why would a caregiver openly show that he is growing marijuana in a storefront? That’s seems to just be asking for violence and burglaries to occur. When you have drug addicts walking around, I’m sure throwing a brick through a storefront window because it has marijuana inside would be a logical idea. Or the possibility of having a disabled patient inside the building while that occurs and he/she(patient) not being able to defend themselves. The city acts as if these patients are rich and can just throw money away, I’m positive most of them are struggling financially. If these patients are disabled more than likely they are out of a job, and have little to no income. If patients are able to grow marijuana in their own house why not let them? People complain of the smell? I highly doubt the smell is that ‘overwhelming’ where they need to complain to the city. I highly doubt there was even a legitimate complaint. I’ve lived next to and walked by houses in Hamtramck far worse smelling and poorly kept up with residents inside. Why are they not reported? Even if they are reported can you really tell a person to clean up there house? So if a marijuana patient has a kept up and tidy house and somehow a person gets a whiff of their ‘medicine’ growing, how would that be a problem?

    If patients are using medical marijuana and it is helping them, why cut down and restrict? If you make it harder to find caregivers(which already is almost impossible) would you rather have patients turn to illegally buying drugs? That would be saying that city council is obliging to illegal distribution to drugs. Some of ‘legal’ drugs such a salvia and k2 have far worse effects than marijuana. Marijuana should be switching places with salvia and k2 legality-wise. While patients medicate with marijuana they are harmless, unlike salvia where a person cannot even comprehend reality or stand.

    Also by Hamtramck pulling records of who has medical marijuana, they are infringing on a patient’s rights. Patient-doctor confidentiality is only broken or allowed in extreme cases such as murder. So if a medical marijuana patient is alive why does the city need to access their records?

    This is a very minute problem that Hamtramck is focusing too much on to use it to their advantage. No other city is trying to take the measures Hamtramck is taking, there is no need to. The only reason this is such a big deal is because it was and still is an illegal drug(In some states). If it was never illegal and discovered and immediately used as legal medication there would be no problems and no questions asked. Hamtramck should be ruling in favor of the patients and allow a conference with patients addressing these so called ‘problems’.

    Sadly none of these questions will be answered, and more than likely no one will read or pay attention to this post.

  3. Patient

    September 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I totally agree the city needs to find real problems to deal with, like the current amount of break in enterings. The council is so focused on taking away the rights provided by the state. Who are they to regulate a patient or caregivers rights??
    Like Dave said. The empty store fronts and commercial property is owned by jankowski & his wife, & other council members… So they are trying to make judgment based on a bias. thus their payday.. No other city or legal state for that matter has gone to lengths this city is going too, to help line their pockets with cash from others expenses due to disabilities. Plus their is such a thing as privacy rights of medical patients.. I think the city is trying to make a quick buck; basing these new zoning laws on private interests…. Not the best interests of the sick and disabled. By creating these zoning laws it will then give the criminals the exact locations of where to go… It don’t take a genius to see how this can cause more problems, possibly even someone’s death… The city wants to regulate things, then maybe the council should actually create ZOning laws to force all home owners to fix all these broken down houses. We live in hamtramck, not in jankowski’ville … What the council wants to do is take away our rights as tax paying citizens. I guess the council is the new dictators of hamtramck… Jankowski’ the man who punches women in the face at bars. I can’t believe he is even in office after something like that. Time has passed but the facts remain the same. Jankowski’ is not sqeaky clean as he acts..
    We have rights.. The city needs to respect them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *