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Posted on Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor adopts medical marijuana non-disclosure policy to protect personal information

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor City Council took action Tuesday night to adopt a policy aimed at making sure certain information about medical marijuana patients and caregivers is exempt from public disclosure, including protection against Freedom of Information Act requests.

The policy was brought forward by Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward. It passed by a 6-3 vote with Stephen Rapundalo, Marcia Higgins and Tony Derezinski opposing it.

Council Members Sandi Smith and Margie Teall were absent.

"Members of the public remain concerned we will be compiling a list, looking at information we shouldn't be looking at, and making that information about who's applied for a zoning permit public," Briere said, explaining the reason for the policy, which follows last month's approval of new zoning and licensing ordinances regulating medical marijuana in Ann Arbor.


Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, sponsored the medical marijuana non-disclosure policy approved by the Ann Arbor City Council Tuesday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Briere said she believes the city's FOIA procedures and the state's language about privacy and medical marijuana information already are enough to ensure city staff won't release information about medical marijuana patients and caregivers publicly.

"But I also believe in belts and suspenders, and that's what this resolution accomplishes," she said, noting it's the same resolution she proposed back in March and later withdrew.

"It does not provide anything that we don't think the staff would already do, but it reassures people that this is indeed the policy," she said.

The non-disclosure resolution notes that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act makes clear that the following information is protected against disclosure, subject to exceptions for disclosure of certain information to law enforcement personnel:

  • Applications to the Michigan Department of Community Health for medical marijuana registry identification cards and supporting information submitted by patients, including: the name, address and date of birth of the patient; the name, address and date of birth of the patient's primary caregiver; the name, address and phone number of the patient's physician; and any designation as to whether the patient or caregiver will be allowed under state law to possess marijuana plants for the patient's medical use.
  • Individual names and other identifying information on the state's list of the persons to whom the department has issued registry identification cards.

Briere's resolution makes clear that the city desires to protect the same information from disclosure if it is received in any form by the city as part of the zoning or licensing processes for medical marijuana caregivers, dispensaries or other providers.

Multiple medical marijuana advocates spoke at Tuesday's meeting encouraging adoption of the non-disclosure policy.

Matthew Abel, a Detroit-based attorney representing a prospective medical marijuana dispensary owner in Ann Arbor, also called for changes to the licensing ordinance.

The city has had a moratorium prohibiting new dispensaries from opening in Ann Arbor since last August, but city officials estimate there still are about 15 to 18 operating.

Under the licensing regulations, dispensaries that were open prior to the moratorium have up to 60 days after the new ordinance takes effect to submit an application for a license. No other applications are going to be accepted until 75 days after the ordinance takes effect.

The ordinance caps the licenses to be issued at a number 10 percent higher than the licenses applied for in the first 60 days, but not more than 20. That essentially means no more than one or two additional licenses would be available to new dispensaries.

Rhory Gould, who plans to open a dispensary called Arborside Health and Wellness at 3150 Packard Road, has had his associates take turns camping outside of city hall since June 20 in order to ensure he's first in line to get one of those licenses.

"We have a lot of time and money invested in this, and I have to advise my client to stay in line unless there's some change to this ordinance," Abel told council members on Tuesday, speaking on behalf of Gould and Arborside.

"It seems that the current ordinance rewards the cowboys who opened prior to the moratorium and it penalizes those who waited for approval," Abel added.

Abel said ideally he'd like the city to issue Arborside a number acknowledging it was first in line, and also change the licensing ordinance to stipulate that up to 20 licenses will be given out in the first year — dropping the 10 percent calculation.

Abel didn't get a response from city officials Tuesday night.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 3:05 p.m.

Legalize, regulate it and tax it. This medical thing is a joke. The people getting their cards are just that. Granted, there are some who do legitimately meet the medicinal threshold, but I have to thing they are the odd man or woman out. FYI, the state regulations, e.g. Administrative Code, require all patients and caregivers to keep a log of the marijuana produced. Since dispensaries are not even legal under state law, imposing this same requirement on them is certainly acceptable. One other thing cardholders should be aware of, the presence of THC in your bloodstream, which has a half life of several weeks, is enough to convict you for impaired driving. this issue was decided in the Court of Appeals a few years back. So, don't go thinking you can medicate yourself while driving or boating.

Red Barber

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

Thanks for the clarification. Yes, patients opting to designate a primary caregiver (as opposed to being self-sufficient) are directly linked to one another through the registration process. But that's clearly not the same thing as, "... require all patients and caregivers to keep a log of the marijuana produced." I agree that revisions are forthcoming. I'd venture to say that given Schuette's opinion, there's going to be some really upset folks in the not too distant future.


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

I meant produced as in who you are producing for, or I suppose acquiring could work to, since the patient has to identify their caregiver. Marijuana is cultivated, but maybe soon we will have the George Jetson machines that just spit out whatever we ask for. Regardless, the law is poorly written, and I suppose we will see a revision soon from jurists who claim to be non revisionists.

Red Barber

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

treetowncartel: How do you conclude from Rules 333.115 and 333.117 that a log documenting production must be kept? If it's there, or elsewhere, please provide the exact phrasing.


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

We can agree to disagree. Here are the debilitating conditions covered under the act taking from the Administrative code. Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer's disease, nail patella, or the treatment of these conditions. Documentation "log" requirements are covered primarily in Rules 333.115 and 333.117. Legalize it, regulate it and tax it!

Milton Shift

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

Of those with medical cards I've met, the majority really needed it. Not everyone with a card has cancer or AIDS, but many find that it's a natural and less addictive alternative to narcotic painkillers (which are very useful, but shouldn't be the first line treatment given that something less abusable is available). Most of the recreational users are too paranoid to get a card, even if they are able to. They think the government is tricking them into forking over their names so they can later repeal the law and come bust them. "Getting legal" also costs a lot of money - seeing doctors, paying application fees, etc. Where is this requirement that they keep a log? Could you please provide a direct reference? I haven't heard of this, and I've read both the MMMA and the MDCH's administrative rules. Bill Schuette said in his campaign against the MMMA that it would legalize dispensaries, and now he says otherwise...


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

Is this what we pay these people for and elected them for? Another wasted meeting talking about something that means nothing while major issues don't get addressed. Of course if you deal with all the non issues you never have to take a stand on something that someone might object to. By the way, I doubt the DEA is going to worry about this ordinance when they raid these places and take all their records.

Milton Shift

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

Protecting a patient's privacy and personal safety (they have been robbed before...) is a waste of time?


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

I wonder if WAL-MART will be selling these at $4.00 per Prescription? What a waste of time and money for all of the cities in Michigan. Sell these drugs at a Pharmacy! "FOIA procedures and the state's language about privacy and medical marijuana information already are enough to ensure city staff won't release information about medical marijuana patients and caregivers publicly." Of course, nobody will ever release or LEAK any information they are not suppose to! We can call the new website Mari'

Milton Shift

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

Ask the federal government to allow it to be sold at a pharmacy. They're the only reason it's not.


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 11:59 a.m.

It is great to see local government tackling the top issues of the day. Now I can get a prescription, and forget about the lack of job growth, and crumbling infrastructure.

Milton Shift

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 11:10 p.m.

Patients who grow for themselves and share with no one are drug dealers? Also, are pharmacists drug dealers? They sell far more dangerous and addictive drugs that get you MUCH higher all day long (oxycodone - very similar to heroin, and dexedrine - very similar to meth).


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 4:07 p.m.

All part of being in the drug trade Milton. You think being a drug dealer is hard try abortion Doctor.

Milton Shift

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

Or when you are harassed by friends, family, and neighbors who don't believe medical marijuana should be legal, or when you lose your job because of a closed-minded and judgemental employer.

Milton Shift

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

When you are a medical marijuana patient, and the local government leaks your identity, resulting in your house being stormed by robbers or overzealous law enforcement, it's quite an important issue.

Milton Shift

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 11:29 a.m.

The big change that needs to be made to the ordinance is to remove the requirement that dispensaries keep records on all their suppliers of medical marijuana. They are being required to create a shopping list (bust list) for the DEA...


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 11:11 a.m.

Maybe I misunderstand but if Ann Arbor is on the State's "blighted city" list, that would mean an EFM could be appointed. And, would it then be possible for the EFM to undo this ordinance? If the council can't meet or enact laws, would that mean these types of laws could be voided by an EFM? Can anyone clarify for me?


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

I'm playing internet lawyer but no it could not. EFM does have massive power it is not that powerful. Looking at the original EFM law <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and the 2011 changes to it <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The council can still meet and enact laws, however they may be required to have EFM there to make them binding. If they had made any budgetary or vendor contracts, etc the EFM could have the power to overrule them. A law like this does not involve buget spending, vendor contracts, etc. so there isn't anything for a EFM to overrule fiscally. Additionally the EFM cannot fire/replace any elected officials (i.e. city council members, etc) so they couldn't fire everybody and replace them with a stacked deck to change the law (however unelected they can)