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Posted on Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

Medical marijuana advocates protesting pending decision by Ann Arbor City Council

By Ryan J. Stanton

Local medical marijuana advocate Chuck Ream says Ann Arbor officials mustn't underestimate the tenacity of those fighting for the rights of cannabis patients in Michigan.

"We will protect our patients by any means necessary," Ream said in an e-mail sent out to the media in advance of tonight's Ann Arbor City Council meeting.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. to vote on a new licensing ordinance for medical marijuana businesses and home grow operations in the city. Ream and his supporters oppose the ordinance and are planning to stage a public protest before the meeting starts.

"We will initiate recalls against officials who break the law," he said.

Because of renovation work going on inside city hall, the meeting will be held at the Washtenaw County administration building at 220 N. Main St.

"Lots of our people will be at this meeting, and they will speak," Ream said, adding the planned demonstration outside the building will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Council members are being asked by the city attorney's office to add a new chapter to the Ann Arbor City Code, requiring medical marijuana cultivation facilities, dispensaries and home occupations to be licensed by the city and to adhere to city regulations.

The licensing ordinance is intended to complement a proposed medical marijuana zoning ordinance that would regulate where dispensaries can and can't locate in Ann Arbor.

Tonight's consideration of the licensing ordinance is only a first reading, which often times is merely ceremonial and is passed unanimously. Both the licensing and zoning ordinances are expected to come back for final approval on Jan. 18.

Ream claims the city still has illegal inspections and zoning compliance permits in the drafted ordinance, and he's demanding that language be removed. He said Ann Arbor must have a model ordinance or "we will be in deep trouble statewide."

City Attorney Stephen Postema disagrees with claims that the city's proposed ordinances conflict with state law, including the licensing process Ream opposes.

"It's not illegal language. There's nothing in the state act that would prohibit the licensing regulation," he said. "And it's still on first reading. It's really for the council to make these decisions. It's one of those things where the process needs to play out."

Postema said Ream has made his views known to the council, and he's sure council members will take that feedback into account when they deliberate.


Medical marijuana advocate Chuck Ream addresses Ann Arbor officials at a meeting back in October.

Ryan J. Stanton |

In his e-mail, Ream said 2011 is shaping up to be "the year that the ham-fisted totalitarians of the Michigan Municipal League think they will take over the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program." He and supporters are expected to carry signs and petitions tonight, demanding that Ann Arbor and other Michigan cities resign from and boycott the League.

Ream accuses the League of conspiring with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to spend taxpayer dollars to commission the creation of a white paper called "A Local Government View of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act." 

Click here to download a copy of the Oct. 5 report prepared by consultant Gerald Fisher.

Postema, president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys and chairman of the League’s Legal Defense Fund, said Ream's claims are off-base.

"The white paper is just an outline of legal issues with the state act," Postema said. "It doesn't really tell communities what to do. In fact, communities are doing all sorts of different things, including the city of Ann Arbor. It's really up to each city. This is sort of an unprecedented situation. Each city needs to decide for themselves how they're going to analyze the law."

Ann Arbor's licensing ordinance aims to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities in the city to 15. It also states no one can be eligible for a license to operate a cultivation facility, dispensary or home occupation if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor involving any controlled substance or any felony.

"We have confidence that council will toss the garbage that the legal department has sent them," Ream said. "If they ever did pass the draft as it stands now, there would be mass non-violent civil disobedience and mass arrests. I will go first."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Mike Hartwell

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:59 a.m.

I just read the white paper and the powerpoint. The concern from the proponents of MMMP, should be worried about the idea that the Michigan Municipal League is proposing that only ten growers be authorized to provide Marijuana to pharmacies. This is a monopoly. I wonder who would be making the money? licensing for a locked facility is trivial in comparison.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:13 a.m.

Goodness Mr. Granville. If you'd like marijuana to be taken seriously as medication then it should be treated seriously - which means no homegrowing and yes - pick up your prescription at the pharmacy where they will have your name on the package. This is my favorite, I think. You don't get to dictate my choices of health care Financial Facts. Not you, not the AMA, not the police. I've given birth, at home, to three big fat healthy babies, use homeopathic remedies and yes, I also take my kids to the Medicine Man-a 73 year old Tsalagi man who lives in Lenaway county. My health care choices have been under attack for hundreds of years. What's it matter to you, really, how I choose to heal myself? Why do you care? Why do you insist we conform to your belief system? I have known midwife friends in Illinois who were arrested for helping other women give birth-had their doors kicked in at dinner with their children, and their files and computer stolen by state police-for helping women give birth! Until the mid 70's it was ILLEGAL to be Indian in our great country. Folks were arrested, thrown in prison and their children were taken from them for holding ceremony. This is about the ability to make our own health care choices and the LAST people on earth we want to take over the cultivation and distribution of this plant is the evil, lying pharmacuetical companies. If that's how YOU choose to take your medicine, Financial Facts, the go ahead and do so. I personally think you're a fool for doing so, but have no plans to ridicule you or encourage the police and city council to require you to do things the way I do.

Financial Facts

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 8:54 a.m.

Goodness Mr. Granville. If you'd like marijuana to be taken seriously as medication then it should be treated seriously - which means no homegrowing and yes - pick up your prescription at the pharmacy where they will have your name on the package.

malcolm kyle

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 5:03 a.m.

May I ask you all to please consider the following very carefully: It wasn't alcohol that caused the surge in crime and homicide during alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, it was the prohibition of alcohol. That's why many of us find it hard to believe that the same thing is not happening now. We clearly have a prohibition fueled violent crime problem. A huge number of these violent crimes are perpetrated by criminal syndicates and gangs who use the proceeds from the sales of illegal substances to further even more of their criminal activities. The second biggest business during prohibition in Detroit was liquor at $215 million a year and employing about 50,000 people. Authorities were not only helpless to stop it, many were part of the problem. During one raid the state police arrested Detroit Mayor John Smith, Michigan Congressman Robert Clancy and Sheriff Edward Stein. The Mexican cartels are ready to show, that when it comes to business, they also like to be nonpartisan. They will buy-out or threaten politicians of any party, make deals with whoever can benefit them, and kill those who are brave or foolish enough to get in their way. If you support prohibition then you're either a black market profiteer, a terrorist, a corrupt politician, a sadomoralist, a wing-nut socialist, fake-conservative or a prohibitionist excrementalist. If you support prohibition then you've helped trigger the worst crime wave in history, raising gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging. If you support prohibition you've a helped create a black market with massive incentives to hook both adults and children alike. If you support prohibition you've helped to make these dangerous substances available in schools and prisons. If you support prohibition you've helped put previously unknown and contaminated drugs on the streets. If you support prohibition you've helped to escalate Murder, Theft, Muggings and Burglaries. If you support prohibition you've helped to divert scarce law-enforcement resources away from protecting your fellow citizens from the ever escalating violence against their person or property. If you support prohibition you've helped to prevent the sick and dying from obtaining safe and effective medication. If you support prohibition you've helped remove many important civil liberties from those citizens you falsely claim to represent. If you support prohibition you've helped create the prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords. If you support prohibition you've helped escalate the number of people on welfare who can't find employment due to their felony status. If you support prohibition you're responsible for the horrific racial disparities which have breed generations of incarcerated and disenfranchised Afro Americans. If you support prohibition you've helped evolve local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, controlling vast swaths of territory with significant social and military resources at their disposal. If you support prohibition you're promoting a policy which kills our children, endangers our troops, counteracts our foreign policy and reduces much of the developing world to anarchy. If you support prohibition then you are guilty of turning the federal, state and local governments into a gargantuan organized crime syndicate, interested only in protecting it's own corrupt interests. -- The very acts for which we initially created governments to protect us from, have become institutionalized. Thanks to prohibition, government now provides 'services' at the barrel of a gun. Neurotics build castles in the sky, psychotics live in them; the concept of a "Drug-Free Society" is a neurotic fantasy and Prohibition's ills are a product of this psychotic delusion. Prohibition is nothing less than a grotesque dystopian nightmare; if you support it you must be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, corrupt or criminally insane. If you support prohibition then prepare yourself for even more death, corruption, sickness, imprisonment, unemployment, foreclosed homes, and the complete loss of the rule of law and the Bill of Rights.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 2:34 a.m.

For those of you who don't get why these regulations are being opposed: State law requires that a patient's information is confidential. That includes the location where plants are being grown. This is a protection written right in to the medical marijuana law to protect patients. Right now the DEA is pressing the state to release information on medical marijuana patients. This makes it even more important that our addresses do not become a matter of record for the local government. It's actually an arrestable misdemeanor for this information to be given to anyone besides the MDCH. The medical marijuana law also says that having a medical card and a home grow operation is not grounds for a search of the property. Homes inspections are explicitly illegal according to the state law we voted in. For those concerned about the safety of home grows: You are being truly ridiculous. Toaster ovens and hair dryers pull more watts than the average grow room. Do you have equal concern about the average citizen's ability to safely dry their hair?


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

@ David,my understanding is that the ridiculous prices charged by the dispensaries are almost half, if not more than half, on the black market. You can also get a Louis Viton Stanford is making Va Tech look like a big ten team...sorry about that...ok, you can also buy black market merchandise on the street for an inkling of what you will pay in the chain store. You can also get some high quality moonshine that can't be, and isn't, sold in the state approved liqour stores and establishments. So, regulating it won't get rid of that element, but it will benefit those who can't afford the outlandish prices.

David Briegel

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.

Listen to the words posted here. People will get pot like they always have. Illegaly! Paying Criminals. The American Way! Just keep the criminals in business. Why not? Criminals run our banks, oil companies, insurance companies and just about everything else. They just hire their lackey's in Congress to make their behavior legal!

mike from saline

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

If smoking pot turns out to be a cure for folks suffering from the toxic effects of that deadly combination of "self-rightous indigna- tion, and hand-ringing concern," I'm all for it. "By any means necessary?" Please! This is a movement in need of effective leadership. Chuck Ream would be a very poor choice.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.

"... join us and tell the authorities to allow them to grow their own...." On this topic, I need some remedial Basic Background 101. In regard to growing for personal consumption only, what is allowed by the approved state referendum and/or the currently proposed A2 ordinance? Can a medical user usefully dispense with the dispensaries by growing at home?


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

With all due respect to Mr. Ream, it's difficult to understand the term "our patients" in this context. The term "patient" is used by a professional with accredited medical training, unless we're talking about voodoo witch doctors or something similar. It's also difficult to understand combining the terms "protecting patients" and "by all means necessary" which is the term used by law enforcement personal to indicate the legal use of deadly force. I have no comment on the issue of marijuana use or the use of any drugs, legal or otherwise. We live in a society that respects personal responsibility and even provides legitimate treatments, by trained professionals, for those who make mistakes in judgment and suffer the consequences later on in their lives.

Dog Guy

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7 p.m.

Politicians, direct descendants of the puritans, are terrified that someone might derive pleasure from medical marijuana. Mixing it with capsicum and castor oil might placate the politicos.

Larry Weisenthal

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

So that Ann Arbor doesn't need to reinvent the wheel, it might be instructive to review the California experience with local jurisdiction regulation of medical marijuana (which has been legal in California since 1996): - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

panther jeenz

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

This crowd really needs to shut up already. I could sympathize with some outrage if all dispensaries were shut down--in which case sufferers would have to somehow buy pot illegally like millions of people have been doing for eons in this country--but we're only talking about some regulation! And the line about totalitarianism is laughably juvenile. I've always supported legalizing weed based on its relative safety, but lets not kid ourselves. These days pot is being prescribed for illnesses real and bogus, with its efficacy for the former being poorly studied. I've known several people who have been put on it for wasting and cancer, and in most cases it was worthless. Also, pot dispensaries often more closely resemble head shops than pharmacies. There are ads for "Blueberry Kush" and "Northern Lights." What chronically ill patient seriously gives a damn? It's been awhile since I've walked into Walgreens and seen ads for "Sticky Red Zoloft!" or "Gooey Gummy Zyprexa!" There's more to the story than people are being fed during this pot craze. And I like pot! But even as an occasional smoker, I have to acknowledge the silliness of this.

David Briegel

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 5:37 p.m.

Mike, So much of what you say is accurate and understandable. Now, just take a moment and analyze your own words. "We expected that those who "needed" it would grow their own". Then you should join us and tell the authorities to allow them to grow their own. Call off the dogs!! I know a guy with a card to grow who had a knock on his door. The helicopter YOU and I paid for found some plants in his back 40 trash and left when he showed them his card. If you have ANY conservative inklings in your make up, justify that use of our tax dollars as well as my friend with MS mentioned above. STOP REEFER MADNESS!!


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

"by any means necessary" -- have to start calling this guy Chuck the x Reams. Have you not out grown your teens by now--- how many years as a teen 40- 50?

David Briegel

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Drug companies are already unregulated and uninspected! Their hired hands in Congress even assure that they no longer must be competitve! They want govt off the back of business except when it is a business that might compete AGAINST Big Business! Imagine? REEFER MADNESS! My 60 yr old friend with MS had a SWAT team with automatic weapons invade her home. Don't you good people feel safer now??? Is there no humanity left? Is there no sanity??


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

If it is truly for medical purposes, it should be licensed and production/distribution restricted.! However, even if it is made totally legal, I'm OK with that but it should be licensed and taxed heavily just like cigarettes and alcohol. There is no free lunch. djm


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

15 dispensaries are plenty for a city this size. If that's not enough and you know any kids going to high school you can have them get you more. I don't think Michiganders expected dispensaries to pop up in every town and I don't think legalizing "medical" marijuana was intended to make it seem like pot is OK. That's the sublime message being sent to our kids and I'm sure one of the steps to eventually making smoking pot seem like drinking milk. We expected that those who "needed" it would grow their own and not have to subject ourselves to marijuana dispensaries all over town. Many places that have legalized medical marijuana find themselves dealing with all kinds of unsavory characters buying the legal stuff for a variety of "ailments". So here's some fodder for all of you accepting types - progressives, liberals, etc - to call me names, paranoid, and tell me what an idiot I am. That is if you're not too high to read and comprehend what I just wrote. the majority of Michiganders don't want this shoved in our face, we voted to legalize it out of compassion for those truly suffering (which I'm sure is a very small number) and now we're going to get to see it everywhere......Great........and we get to listen to you cry that it's not enough.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

I have been in homes that were not setup for hydroponics growing of all types. In many cases in large scale growing the best thing that can be done after a year or two is bulldoze the house. Many of these were "illegal" grow operations. Most high intensity grow lights get hot. Constant water with nutrients in it on the floor can weaken the structure and leak into lower floors. Lack of ventilation means that the plants will lack enough CO2 to grow as well as they can (and making or releasing supplemental CO2 can be a problem for people and animals). I can see why both homeowners and the city can benefit from a knowledgeable inspector coming in and making sure the grow area is properly laid out and will not cause problems for the home owner and the city in the long run. Similar issues exist for commercial buildings. My worry is that the inspectors don't know how to tell if a hydroponic setup is well done or not. An inspection for pure permit fees and location information is a waste of everyone's time and effort. A good inspection will safeguard everyone. A bad one is dangerous to all.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

@alan There is a link in the story.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.

HIPPA only applies to the medical records of the businesses. I can't believe that the existing building codes don't cover the growers and sellers. They cover florists and brewpubs, whats the difference? Oh thats right weed is much more dangerous than alcohol.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

I think it's kind of funny that those who are against marijuana are the paranoid ones. Seriously though, the city council of Ann Arbor and the surrounding towns need to give it a rest. The zoning laws are nothing but ways to strong-arm the dispensaries out of town.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

The report by Gerald Fisher is VERY one sided with alot of unproven numbers. More disinformation to confuse the truth.More like toilet paper than white paper. Inspections are just another way to make money. I've seen plenty of hobbies that use more electric than a grow.One could grow 36+ plants with only one outlet and a power strip.Should every hobby, wood shop etc.. be inspected also?

David Briegel

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

Atticus, bujuice, Eric Meyers, Alan Goldsmith are correct. The people passed this measure by a significant margine. The Reefer Madness crowd simply cannot be trusted to just let it be. The just have to exert authority over the weak and suffering. They are obstacles instead of implementers. I hate to admit that we have to start over and vote for the complete legalization and decriminalization but it would seem that we just can't trust our elected officials.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

Medical Marijuana is a joke and all these advocates for "patients" are just advocates for drug addicts.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

Like most zealots, Mr. Reams narrow vision of the world does not allow him to see how his threats are perceived but the general publicmost of whom do not care about medical marijuana. Working collaborativelynot combativelywith the Council is the key to achieving his goals. Instead, he threatens the Council with any means necessary actions. Does that include violence against the Council?? I used to be a supporter of Mr. Reamno longer. Wonder if hes lost support on the Council too?


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

IIRC, Ann Arbor FD is required by law to make regular inspections of all businesses but has not done so in many years. All of the sudden it's an issue to inspect and certify dispensaries. Why? One guess. Reefer Madness.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.

My, my people do get their panties in a twist over some things...go get yourself a card, [easy breezy, if you got the money, from some people], and have some relaxing therapy...seriously though, I do find it a bit ironic that one clinic located on Main St., that was the target of a robbery, does not even have handicap access for those with physical restrictions...yep long set of stairs....


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:26 p.m.

What Postema, Council and spineless leadership (Hieftje) at the top want to do is 1) make it as bureaucratically difficult and as costly as possible for anyone to open a dispensary or have a home grow no matter the size. 2) give themselves political cover. Get over it! Write an ordinance that is easy to understand, simple to implement and enforce without all the Big Brother machinations of extra fees, licenses, multiple "safety" inspections and government meddling and do it without invading people's homes and lives.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

Yeah man, by any means necessary! Wait what was I talking about again?

Atticus F.

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

Larry, in what dimension are you living in that you believe people are in opposition to this because they want to "sell drugs to highschool kids"?! I'm getting tired of these reefer madness quotes being used as a springboard to harrass people who are suffering.

Larry Weisenthal

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

Interesting to see that this remains an issue. I lived in Ann Arbor 1968-77, and, during this time, there was the famous $5 fine for marijuana possession. I'm surprised that this is still an issue. I don't see why the proposed licensing ordnance should be all that controversial. Cities and states regulate pharmacies, restaurants, liquor stores, etc. As long as the regulation is open and transparent and reasonable, there shouldn't be any problems. Here in CA (the first state to legalize medical marijuana), local jurisdictions do regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, and there are few real problems. "Ann Arbor's licensing ordinance aims to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities in the city to 15. It also states no one can be eligible for a license to operate a cultivation facility, dispensary or home occupation if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor involving any controlled substance or any felony." What on earth is the problem with the above? For a city the size of Ann Arbor, 15 dispensaries and cultivation facilities should be more than adequate to meet all recreational needs, as well as medical needs, for goodness sakes! What exactly is the agenda here? To make it easier to dispense to people who will pass it along to high school students -- or exactly what? - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

For all the years that Silent Stephen Postema has been city attorney has anyone ever publicly heard more from him about any other issue than marijuana? Postema is supposedly the city attorney. Why is he the one making policy? It's because Council is spineless. Well. they shouldn't worry about their jobs, we'll vote for them even if they appear to be "soft on crime" by allowing medical marijuana patients to act in accordance with state law. Please get over your Reefer Madness and do what's right!! The entire city administration including council is behind the curve on this issue. The voters spoke loudly and clearly. The tide is coming in. If there was any leadership on council, mainly Hieftje, this would be a done deal and we wouldn't be wasting time and money with all this bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo.

Atticus F.

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

Alan, the problem is that it violates state law, as well as federal 'HIPPA' which is a federal medical privacy law. Also there seems to be this misconception that 36 plants= 36 gigantic 7 foot tall plant. When in reality, there are alternate growing methods that would allow for growing a large number of small plants inside of a small space. It's called the 'Sea of Green' method, and it was designed for people who dont have alot of space.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

I don't see a link to the proposed ordinance but I thought that the licensing and inspection requirement was to allow the building inspector to make sure that the building satisfied commercial code regarding electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling, just like every other commercial building, but only if the grower had more than 24 plants. Given the requirements of an indoor growing operation, I thought this was reasonable to assure the health and safety of neighbors. I wouldn't want my neighbors bursting into flame from overloaded electrical service. I may be incorrect, but I would appreciate a link if anyone has it.

Atticus F.

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

In a city known for tolerance and diversity, I would hate to see people in wheel chairs, and senior citizens being drug away in hand cuffs as the medical MJ community members all lock arms and 'sit-in'... And thats exactly whats going to happen tonight if the proposal passes in its current form.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

I think the city needs to just butt out of peoples lives.And leave personal choice and medical needs alone.