ALPINE TOWNSHIP — Medical marijuana will be allowed in Alpine Township, but new rules will prohibit dispensaries and regulate the way licensed caregivers conduct business and interact with patients.
The first reading of a medical marijuana amendment to the township zoning ordinance took place Monday night.
Under the new rules, licensed caregivers are considered a home occupation. Only one will be allowed per “dwelling unit” and that must be the principal residence of the caregiver.
Marijuana must also be delivered to the patients, rather than having patients pick up their marijuana dose at the caregiver’s home.
“We certainly could do what the city of Wyoming did and forbid everything,” said Township Supervisor Alex Arends. “What we’re trying to do is provide a compassionate way to get medical marijuana to those people who are allowed to have it.”
The rules define dispensaries as any place — mobile or otherwise — where medical marijuana is smoked or consumed by three or more people simultaneously.
Amendments to the home occupation rules impose a strict review and application process, as well as restricting noise, light, fumes or anything that may be noticeable to neighbors.
No garage or attached accessory building may be used. No sales can take place on the premises. Marijuana must remain in an enclosed, locked facility accessible only to the caregiver.
Also, no signs advertising marijuana are permitted. Violations of the ordinance would be a civil infraction punishable by minor fines.
“There’s very little fanfare here,” said Arends. “I think this is a very good ordinance.”
The amendment was drawn up by Planning Director Sue Thomas, who used a report by Gerald Fisher, a Cooley Law School professor, to help draft the language.
Trustee Ron Cordes, also on the Planning Commission, said Alpine has received several requests from other townships in West Michigan to “piggyback” on their medical marijuana research.
The second and final reading of the new rules will take place at the next Township Board meeting, Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Township hall, 5255 Alpine Ave. NW. If approved, the rules would go into effect in late January.