Medical marijuana users and advocates say proposed regulations in Battle Creek will severely limit patients’ access to needed medication.
The city’s Planning Commission on Wednesday heard the first proposal from city staff about how to keep tabs on medical marijuana, which Michigan voters approved in 2008.
Under the proposed regulations, one or two people in the same home would be allowed to grow and use marijuana for their own medical use if they’ve gotten a doctor’s permission. Renters would need to get written permission from the property owner.
As many as four users could live together along with four growers as long as every person was considered part of the same household. The city would require a license for these qualified households.
Growers, known as “caregivers” under the state law, would need a city license and not be allowed within 1,000 feet of schools or licensed day care facilities.
Smokehouses, clubs where people go to use medical marijuana, and dispensaries, where growers can provide marijuana to people who are not their designated patients, would be prohibited.
Compassion clubs, defined by the city as public or private clubs that provide support services for medical marijuana uses, would be allowed in some commercial zones, but growing, distributing and using the drug at such clubs would be banned.
“This is not (putting) patients first, not at all,” said Chris Jung of Battle Creek, one of 20 people who addressed the Planning Commission Wednesday with concerns about the proposal.
Many said it was important to be able to use their medicine some place other than in their homes.
“I won’t smoke in front of my kids,” one woman said. “I’m legal, but it’s not right. We need a compassion club to be able to go to medicate when we can’t smoke it in our houses.”
While not a user or grower herself, Pam Sparks said marijuana has provided her brother with a far better life than when he was being treated with methadone.
Sparks noted that city voters overwhelmingly backed the medical marijuana law and that no one was raising objections now.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of people concerned about it or complaining about it,” she said.
The outcry at the meeting influenced at least one planning commissioner. John Godfrey asked that the city revisit its recommendation and give people an option for smoking outside of their homes.
The Planning Commission will meet again Dec. 1 to decide whether to recommend approval of the zoning ordinance. That part, plus the licensing requirements, would then go to the City Commission, where it will likely be introduced Dec. 7 and possibly finalized Dec. 21.
A local six-month moratorium on new medical marijuana businesses in Battle Creek expires in January.