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Posted on Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 6:02 a.m.

Protesters change tune, applaud Ann Arbor City Council for revisions to medical marijuana ordinance

By Ryan J. Stanton


Organizers estimated more than 40 medical marijuana advocates participated in the protest in advance of Monday night's Ann Arbor City Council meeting. The protesters ultimately were pleased with changes council members made to a medical marijuana licensing ordinance, which comes back for consideration on Jan. 18.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Dozens of medical marijuana advocates protested downtown before Monday night's Ann Arbor City Council meeting, decrying the city's proposed licensing regulations for the pot industry.

Marching up and down the sidewalk along Main Street, they chanted and carried signs with phrases like "Marijuana is NOT a crime!" and "Stop arresting patients!"

Several of those who protested — including dispensary owners, patients and advocates from throughout Michigan — also spoke before the council at the start of the meeting. Among their fears was that the city's proposed licensing rules would require their names to be on a list of caregivers and patients that could end up in the hands of federal agents.

"I don't want to have to join a registry with your city," said Brandy Zink of the Michigan Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana organization. She said she's a cancer survivor and epilepsy patient and frequently visits dispensaries in Ann Arbor.

Over the course of two hours, council members debated and carefully reworded the controversial licensing ordinance in a way that appeared to please the pro-cannabis crowd.

Despite making several changes, the council held off on voting on the reworked version. At the urging of Mayor John Hieftje, council members postponed the vote until Jan. 18, giving the city attorney's office a chance to fine-tune it some more.

If it passes on Jan. 18, a second reading and final approval likely will follow in February. The council also is expected to vote on medical marijuana zoning regulations by then.

Council Members Sabra Briere and Sandi Smith, both 1st Ward Democrats, offered up a series of amendments to the ordinance, which had been drafted by the city attorney's office.

The changes included eliminating licensing mandates for home grow operations. The council voted 6-4 to ensure the ordinance applies only to dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

The audience burst into applause at one point, causing Hieftje to remark: "We don't have interjection from the audience during the body of our meeting."

Joining Briere and Smith in exempting so-called "home occupations" from licensing was Hieftje and Council Members Christopher Taylor, Stephen Kunselman and Margie Teall.


Council Member Christopher Taylor, D-3rd Ward, seeks the advice of City Attorney Stephen Postema during Monday's meeting.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Those who opposed the move were Tony Derezinski, Stephen Rapundalo, Marcia Higgins and Carsten Hohnke. Council Member Mike Anglin was absent.

Medical marijuana advocate Chuck Ream, who organized the protest before Monday's meeting, applauded the council for the changes — particularly for backing away from what he considered intrusive regulations for home grow operations.

"That was truly the key … because they didn't have any right to mess with home occupations and individual caregivers and patients," he said. "They simply can't go into people's homes — who are regular caregivers and patients, who are fully regulated by the state — and add additional requirements for zoning compliance permits and inspections."

Briere agreed the biggest change made Monday night was removing home occupations from the licensing ordinance. She said it seemed the city had good intentions in seeking a list of names and addresses of licensed houses so the police would know where not to go looking for drugs, but the state law on medical marijuana discourages developing such lists.

That's not to say home occupations shouldn't be otherwise regulated, Briere said. Permits should have to be pulled for any electrical or plumbing or other work done. They also have to adhere to the city's zoning ordinances and nuisance laws.

In another change to the ordinance, council members had second thoughts about limiting the number of dispensaries and cultivation facilities in the city to 15. After a lengthy debate, the council voted 8-2 in favor of setting what appears to be a higher limit.

Only Higgins and Rapundalo objected.

The council decided that, for the next year, licenses should be capped at a number that is 10 percent higher than the total number of dispensaries and cultivation facilities currently operating in the city. But that can't exceed 20 dispensaries and 10 cultivation facilities.

The city attorney's office believes there are about 18 dispensaries and cultivation facilities currently operating in the city — though officials say some of those may have opened after a temporary moratorium on dispensaries was put into place by the city last August.

"That strikes me as somewhat of a regulatory problem," Rapundalo said.

The council also voted unanimously to remove misdemeanor convictions for controlled substances as a reason for rejecting an application for a dispensary license.

Council members were unable to agree whether a buyer's name and the price of the marijuana should be labeled on the packaging. Briere called it "unusually intrusive," but Higgins argued there was a consumer protection element to it — buyers should know if they're getting the right order, and paying the right price, she said.

Another change made Monday night was inserting a new section in the ordinance that calls for establishing a three-member licensing board consisting of a council member, a physician and a caregiver. The members would serve by appointment of the mayor and would annually review the city's licensing criteria for medical marijuana businesses, establish license fees and recommend approval of license applications.


Council Member Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward, offered several changes to the city's proposed medical marijuana licensing ordinance Monday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Ann Arbor resident Tony Keene, a consultant in the medical marijuana industry, requested at the start of Monday's meeting that the city establish an impartial commission to take a fresh look at the issue. He laid out what he acknowledged was probably an unpopular proposal.

Keene called for closing down all dispensaries in their current form and replacing them with "surplus management shops" that would purchase surplus pot from caregivers, co-ops and compassion clubs that have registered their facilities with the city.

The council did not discuss Keene's idea.

Monday's protest called for a boycott of the Michigan Municipal League for its perceived stance in favor of intrusive local regulations for medical marijuana home occupations. In response, the League put out a statement saying it is in no way trying to stop the state's medical marijuana law from being implemented. However, it believes the law is poorly written and doesn’t take into account local planning, zoning and health and safety issues.

“The law is causing a lot of headaches for our members at a time when they have many, much larger issues to address,” Dan Gilmartin, League CEO and executive director, said in a statement. “We take serious exception to the claim that the League is somehow trying to take over the Michigan Medical Marijuana Law, presumably to disrupt its implementation.”

The League, along with the Michigan Townships Association, recently commissioned an independent white paper on the state's medical marijuana law. The paper, released in October, merely outlines the legal options communities have under the law, the League says.

Ream and his supporters say the report is "self-serving, anti-democratic and Orwellian screed," and its proposed model ordinance contradicts state law. The report was prepared by Gerald Fisher, a professor of law at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Monday's meeting was held in the Washtenaw County administration building due to renovation work going on inside city hall. The city will hold its meetings there for the next two months.

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


Atticus F.

Fri, Jan 7, 2011 : 9:18 a.m.

Also, people should note that THC is known to kill cancer cells, while being completely 100% non-toxic to human cells. So please stop spreading your mis-informed, ignorant oppinion, as if it were the gospel truth.


Wed, Jan 5, 2011 : 9:28 a.m.

Please stop spreading the lies, myths and government propaganda about marijuana and speaking about things of which you know less than nothing. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.


Wed, Jan 5, 2011 : 9:26 a.m.

jcj also knows nothing of pain relief and medical marijuana. The last time I needed anything for pain was over two months ago after my last surgery. Sorry to burst your bubble, no "pot head" addiction here, bub. Even though it's an injustice that I pay the state for for the right to occasional medicinal use of a simple organic plant, since bladder cancer commonly recurs I am keeping my certification up to date, just in case. Oh, a hot tub does nothing for abdominal pain that feels like you got your jewels kicked by a mule.


Wed, Jan 5, 2011 : 9:19 a.m.

@jcj, just repeating the absurdity of all those who make a similar claim they make that anyone can get a medical marijuana card.


Wed, Jan 5, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

Wow JNS131 you are so ignorant. It's people like this who dumb our society down. And sorry to bust your bubble jns but kids now think marijuana is the cool thing to do because it is illegal. They get a sense of excitement by living on the edge and trying to do things they shouldn't do. I'm a kid myself and I know more than you. Maybe you should educate yourself instead of waisting your life away arguing a matter that doesn't concern you. If you don't need marijuana in your life than don't bother other people about it. This is a democracy, whatever happened to liberty and the pursuit of happiness? If a person choses to smoke some marijuana then let them! It is their life not yours. Excuse my attitude and language but you are just another low life trying to take away the rights of other people because of something that doest even concern you! More kids drink alcohol when they are underage compared to when they are legally allowed to because not only is it fun to get Fu**Ed up but it is ILLEGAL.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 11:21 p.m.

JNS131: It's funny that you suggest to others to do research on medical cannabis when its clear you have done absolutely none of your own. Cannabis use has NOT been linked to cancer. The largest study ever conducted on the subject found NO link between lung cancer and smoked cannabis. In fact research shows just the opposite. A study out of Harvard concluded cannabis has the capability of reducing the size of cancerous cells.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:35 p.m.

@bugjuice "I hear that pretty much anyone can go to their doctor and get a prescription for Valium" And I hear that we have man eating coyotes in the county! Just because you may have "heard" someone say ti does not make it so!


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

bug juice? You are only lying to yourself to keep yourself dependent on a drug that does cause cancer in of itself. Do the research, do the math. Look at what it does to the brain. Sorry about your pain and sorry about your cancer. But I am so sorry to clear the air about drug usage and what you want the government to believe just to keep you happy. Enjoy the brownies. I will go organic and a pool to relieve my joints. No pun intended.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

Kids don't believe what the government tells them about pot because the government has been lying to them (and everyone else) about pot and other drugs since the days of Harry Anslinger. If anyone is really worried about kids smoking pot or using drugs, they have only the government lies to blame.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

jns131 knows nothing about marijuana or pain relief. I have recurring bladder cancer. The two surgeries I have had resulted in rare but excruciating pain after the surgery. Marijuana brownies work better than any other treatment for pain that has been prescribed to me. Better than prescribed Vicodin, better than prescribed morphine and without any after effects like drowsiness, constipation or addiction. Yeah, Valium (and other anti depressants) works, but it is well known to be addictive, overprescribed and abused. And abusers can easily overdose, something that has never happened in the 2000 year recorded history of cannabis use. And believe you me, there are plenty of people behind the wheel every day who are "high" on Valium and other prescription drugs. If you fear anything on the road you should fear the millions of prescription med junkies who legally use and operate motor vehicles daily. Like I said before, ignorance breeds fear and there are a lot of people ignorant of the facts of medical marijuana. Stop spreading, myths lies and misinformation about cannabis.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 4:58 p.m.

At least Valium eases pain. Marijuana just makes you a drug head. I really worry about the children of these drug users. These children are going to be totally doped up now. Society as a whole is now in tune with the drug culture gone out of control. These children are going to grow up thinking using marijuana is totally cool when it is not. Now I understand why children don't want to learn. They too are doped up as well.

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

ther is the city and then ther are the feds: Feds Sue To Get Michigan Medical Marijuana User Records By Jeralyn, Section Crime Policy Posted on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:54:10 PM EST The U.S. Attorney's office in Michigan is asking a federal judge to force the state's Department of Community Health to comply with a subpoena and turn over the medical marijuana records of 7 people under investigation by the DEA. Michigan law protects the confidentiality of those granted medical marijuana cards and makes disclosure a misdemeanor. The DEA subpoena seeks: read teh rest here:

Atticus F.

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

I also would like to address this irrational arguement about "pot being 10x stonger today". First of all, pot loses potencey when it's improperly stored, these conditions also cause mold and mildew. So essentially, the cannabis in the 70's was not as potent because it was being shipped in from Columbia and Mexico under conditions that caused mold, mildew, and and loss of potency. Alot of the Potent pot that is being seen now, is locally grown, properly stored, and grown without pesticides. The truth is, todays cannabis is alot safer... The higher potency means that users are consuming less cannabis, and consuming cannabis that is free of mold, mildew, and pesticides. And smoking less of a product with a higher quality reduces the total ingestion tars as well. This Higher potency argument ONLY holds weight when used in the context of drugs that one could fatally overdose on...And no one has EVER died from a cannabis overdose (no matter how potent).


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 11:22 a.m.

Wow this all is just ridiculously hilarious. For crying out loud I cant believe people still think marijuana is a drug. If you have a problem with marijuana then dont associate yourself with it! I don't like alcohol, do you see me going out there crying my panties off about it. Seriously people have nothing better to do than try and cause problems. If marijuana helps you in whatever way then use the damn natural grown plant. Are society is in debit, people or dying all over the world, every things falling apart, do something useful with your time. How is it that alcohol is perfectly fine in our society yet people die left and right from it? Guess how many people have died from marijuana...NONE! Same goes for ciggerates, so if your so worried about a natural plant go yell at the damn tobacco companies for killing your loved ones. Who cares how many pot stores there are. At least they don't advertise liquor and ciggerates all over the place. If a person wants to help others in maintaining marijuana then let them do so.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 11:08 a.m.

Don't forget about the FDA big profits either, they have been brainwashing people for years. So now every time a new DRUG comes out with that FDA approve label on it people think it's safe. What this really comes down to is money, how much money can the government make of this? Also do you really want to smoke something the government has grown and distribute??? that answer for me is no, i do not trust them. Who knows what chemical they could put in their plants.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 11:08 a.m.

Don't forget about the FDA big profits either, they have been brainwashing people for years. So now every time a new DRUG comes out with that FDA approve label on it people think it's safe. What this really comes down to is money, how much money can the government make of this? Also do you really want to smoke something the government has grown and distribute??? that answer for me is no, i do not trust them. Who knows what chemical they could put in their plants.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:56 a.m.

@bugjuice I couldn't agree with you more, the FDA is an absolute joke. "If we need this for medical reasons then it should be overseen by the FDA" lol this the funniest thing i have read today! :)


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:51 a.m.

Let's see here - a guy in a pin striped suit sells a patented drug for off label psychiatric use and he's a highly compensated and valued employee of a pharmaceutical company. Too bad about that teenage suicide due to unanticipated side effects though. Someone wants to use an unpatented, herbal medication with thousands of years of safety behind it, and that same pharma company lobbies to keep it illegal, you get put in jail in most locations, and even here, a lot of ignorant folks call you just another stoner. Yes, there are some useful products from big Pharma, but let's be real; a lot of this is just about keeping psychoactive medications safe for Big Pharma profits.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:50 a.m.

I'd love to see a Venn diagram of the people in these threads opposed to marijuana legalization who also self identify as "capitalists" and "small government conservatives." I'm guessing it probably looks about like this: 0


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:46 a.m.



Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:29 a.m.

I hope those of you in favor of no inspection of homes for growing operations never have to buy homes that have been used by care givers to grow 72+ plants. I talked to a friend in Rotterdam yesterday about a work related issue and he was telling me that the number one reason for fires in Rotterdam is grow operations. I doubt most people who want to grow know all the safety requirements for a safe grow operation. I also doubt many of them will tell an inspector if they pull a permit and I bet they will run extension cords rather than pull an electrical permit in many cases. Permits and inspections should be required by competent inspectors to make sure the wiring, plumbing, drainage, light positioning, misters and other gear is all set up to avoid causing mold, structural rot, electrical circuit overloading, hot spots from lights too close to flammable materials, etc. I doubt most of the people Ann Arbor uses today for inspections would know what to look for in terms of high intensity lights and the use of misters. I don't want government in my way either, but I do want someone knowledgable on the issues to make sure I run a safe operation.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:27 a.m.

stunhsif, you appear to be ill-informed and buying into the unsubstantiated claims of the government. i've heard that argument for years and it doesn't hold water. Dope is bad news. No, it isn't. I know successful people from all walks of life who smoke the herb and it doesn't interfere with their lives. The only interference is the government's irrational actions towards anyone who smokes. But, when you put it to a vote, put it in front of the people, over 74% in Michigan said "Enough with the BS!" "Stop putting people in prison for smoking pot!" this '10 times stronger' argument is strictly propaganda and cannot be used to rationalize your paranoid assumptions.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:16 a.m.

Go on Craigslist and for anywhere from $75.00 to $150.00 you can get a medical marijuana card and join the club of legal stoners who have managed to use our own compassion (many of the dispensaries have "compassion" in their name; wow, just like the compassion of those who voted for it) for those in pain and suffering and now can game the system and make lots of money. I know legitimate business men who are considering opening up a dispensary to make a nice profit off of "medical marijuana". Marijuana is a bad drug people and stronger than it's ever been, I have a son who was hooked on it real bad. They even have marijuana anonymous for those that can't stop smoking the stuff, but of course the pot heads would tell you that's "for those too weak to handle it". I know I'm ignorant, but I can deal with it since my mind isn't in a cloud and I won't be driving around stoned. I know a lot of the legal marijuana crowd will read this, so inhale deeply and try to concentrate on a response to my post.....good luck


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:12 a.m.

Tony Derezinski, Stephen Rapundalo, Marcia Higgins and Carsten Hohnke. Voters, please remember that these are the medicine cabinet snoops on council. These are the people who think that government has the right to invade our homes, see what medicines we take and what we grow for our own use.

Ace Ventura

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:54 a.m.

Come on people. Sit back burn one and chill.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:51 a.m.

I think medical marijuana should more or less free and legal; I do however think there needs to be a strict ordinance against ADVERTISING medical print, billboard, and signage. Looking at the free newsweeklies around town...The Current, Metro Times, etc....medical pot seems marketed like both a wonder drug and a candy.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:47 a.m.

@jns131 What about Valium users who drive? When will the police or state pass a law to get them off the roads? There are a heck of a lot more prescription painkiller users and abusers on the road than pot smokers considering how Big Pharma companies push their trash on tv and have it overly prescribed by doctors. I hear that pretty much anyone can go to their doctor and get a prescription for Valium.

Stephen Landes

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:47 a.m.

After reading the recent stories on medical marijuana regulation I have two thoughts: 1) To the degree possible given existing Federal and State laws this substance should be regulated as any other medicine through licensed and examined producers and distributors with all the same proper labeling and controls as any prescribed drug. 2) To the degree that this level of control, above, is unacceptable to marijuana users I suspect that the "medical marijuana" issue is a sham issue intended to move us toward legalization of marijuana in general and is taking advantage of and using as tools patients who truly believe this drug is helping them physically.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:41 a.m.

Im suprised they remembered to show up.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:37 a.m.

Ignorance breeds fear. Those who are ignorant of the facts will continue to suffer from Reefer Madness until they learn the facts. I suggest they smoke some pot before they continue to cast more misinformation, myths and lies into the debate.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:32 a.m.

I am totally against any ordinance that allows weed for the use of pain killers. What worries me the most is driving stoned. Will the police or even the state enact something that will get these buzzed drivers off the roads? They are not doing it for drunk drivers, driving texted and some who are on the phones distracted. Chelsea said no and Ann Arbor needs to do the same. No to homegrown and no to legalizing marijuana. Sad to see our society being reduced to this.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:30 a.m.

@financialfacts. Yeah, like the FDA has a great track record. The FDA is not an independent authority looking out for the good of citizens, it's controlled by lobbyists and the Pharmaceutical mafia.

Somewhat Concerned

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:28 a.m.

As it is Ann Arbor, the way we know that we did the right thing is that we made the protesters happy.

Atticus F.

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:25 a.m.

@Financial facts, you apparently either have no compassion for people who are currently suffering, or no understanding of medical cannabis. The reason I say this because there are so many differnt canibinoids in cannabis, that different strains benefit different medical conditions. Our goal is to stop people from suffering. Right now! Not to get entwined in a burecratic nightmare. which seems to be what your suggesting.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:24 a.m.

I'll let Rapundalo into my home when he lets me look in his medicine cabinet, wander through his bedroom and look through his dresser drawers! What is up with these people, these broadly elected representatives of the people, who think that they have the right to control my life, my disease and what drugs I use to treat it, when a state law, passed by 74% of the voters gives me that right? Stay out of my medicine cabinet!


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:23 a.m.

Any pain or medical issue and you can become a legal "stoner". Dope is bad news, especially now that it is 10 times stronger then it was 40 years ago.

David Briegel

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:17 a.m.

And the people who grow it now and sell it now will continue to do so. And they will be considered criminals when they are nothing more than capitalist business people providing service and a product to meet a demand. And those that are using it will continue to use. And the laws will be selectively enforced and the lack of respect for law enforcement and authority will continue. And those who want govt off the backs and out of the private lives of our citizens will continue to ignore their core beliefs in these matters. Financial Facts, If Pfizer had a patent that is exactly what would occur. The natural herb cannot be regulated or controlled effectively and will continue to be used by the people. And this attempt to use it as medicine will fall into the failed category along with prohibition and jaywalking! Sad, I know many citizens who truly benefit from their use of the herb.

Financial Facts

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 8:45 a.m.

This is laughable - homegrowers can only have 12 plants but "caregivers" can have 12 plants per "patient". If we need this for medical reasons then it should be overseen by the FDA and only 'grown' by a licensed and TIGHTLY regulated company the way all drugs are manufactured and dispensed at a pharmacy with yes, the patients name on the drugs.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 7:47 a.m.

Duuuuude I'm a patient! - Towlie