Neil Rockind in the News | Read The Quote “I said you’ll be getting to know me . . .”

One week in, Royal Oak faces two lawsuits over new medical marijuana ordinance

By Jonathan Oosting |

Less than a week after Royal Oak’s new medical marijuana ordinance took effect, the city finds itself the subject of two lawsuits over new rules prohibiting the cultivation of cannabis.

The latest suit comes courtesy of 47-year-old multiple sclerosis patient Christopher Frizzo, who filed paperwork Monday in Oakland County Circuit Court.

Feb. 7, Daily Tribune: “He wants Royal Oak to repeal its ordinance that limits medical marijuana from being grown or cultivated and if they won’t do it he wants the judge to declare the Royal Oak ordinance unenforceable and void,” said Neil Rockind, one of Frizzo’s attorneys.

Rockind, who is representing Frizzo pro bono, served the city with the lawsuit in person. He was following up on a threat to sue made during public comment of the Jan. 24 City Commission meeting.

“I think the way some politicians and localities are approaching medical marijuana is hurting patients when it’s their job to protect people like Christopher Frizzo,” Rockind said. “I marched down to City Hall with the lawsuit in my hand and told the city clerk you’ll be getting to know me.”

Fellow patient Adam Leslie Brook sued the city Thursday — the same day the ordinance took effect — but neither case comes as much of a surprise. Several residents threatened lawsuits during public comments on the proposed ordinance before the City Commission approved it by a 4-3 vote in late January.

“This is going to keep happening, and we’re going to spend legal fees while we’re laying off police officers,” City Commissioner Jim Rasor, who voted against the ordinance, told the Free Press for a Monday story.

Michigan’s medical marijuana law, approved by voters in 2008, allows registered caregivers to grow up to 12 marijuana plants each for up to five patients.

However, Royal Oak essentially ignored state law in favor of federal law, under which any type of marijuana remains illegal. While patients are allowed to use the drug in Royal Oak, they are no longer allowed to grow their own supply or buy from a caregiver growing within city limits.

Frizzo is no stranger to medical marijuana controversy. Royal Oak police seized his medicine early last year after pulling him over for an improper lane change, a case which prompted the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan to threaten a lawsuit on his behalf.

While Frizzo registered with the state, his card did not designate a caregiver and he refused to tell officers where he got the drug. The ACLU asked Royal Oak Police Chief Christopher Jahnke to return the “unlawfully seized” marijuana, but the city declined.

Each Royal Oak case highlight the continuing divide between Michigan residents — who voted to legalize medical marijuana — and those tasked with enforcing the law. Absent clear oversight from Lansing, local municipalities have enacted their own rules — some of which appear to contradict the will of voters.
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