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Posted on Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 6:05 a.m.

Ann Arbor officials extend moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries two more months

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor City Council once again delayed voting on medical marijuana regulations Tuesday night, instead extending a moratorium on new dispensaries for two more months.

The decision to postpone the vote on a new licensing ordinance for marijuana businesses — which is still at first reading — came following a back-and-forth debate over what information should be required on applications for annual licenses.

Nearly two hours into the meeting, as several cannabis advocates watched from the audience, Mayor John Hieftje acknowledged it has taken Ann Arbor longer than other municipalities to come up with its own local regulations for the budding pot industry.

"We are going to be extremely careful that we craft some legislation that we believe is going to best serve the patients and the caregivers — and anyone who is involved in what is for our state, certainly for our community, a new endeavor," Hieftje said. "I'd much rather get this right than get it done in any sort of a hasty fashion."


Medical marijuana advocates came out in large numbers for Tuesday's meeting of the Ann Arbor City Council.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The city has had a temporary moratorium on new dispensaries since last August while officials work out separate zoning and licensing ordinances.

There are at least a dozen and possibly as many as 18 dispensaries and cultivation facilities in Ann Arbor, according to estimates by city officials and those in the industry locally.

The council voted 10-0 Tuesday night to postpone considering the licensing ordinance until Feb. 7 and to extend the moratorium — which would have expired Jan. 31 — another two months to March 31. Approval of the zoning ordinance also has been pushed back.

As it's now drafted, the licensing ordinance states no person with a felony conviction may operate a dispensary or cultivation facility. In the first year, dispensaries in Ann Arbor would be capped at no more than 20 and cultivation facilities at no more than 10.

Dispensaries would be required to have security cameras, an alarm system and a safe for overnight storage of marijuana and cash, and could not do business from 9 p.m. through 7 a.m.

Marijuana would have to be packaged with a label that includes the patient’s name, the name of the business providing the marijuana, the date of delivery, weight, type of marijuana, dollar amount of the sale, and a warning that health risks could be involved.

Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, proposed an amendment during Tuesday's meeting that would have changed what information is required on license applications.

The proposed ordinance states applications must include the name, address and other contact information of all owners of a dispensary or cultivation facility, as well as others who have an interest in the operation, including business managers. Briere proposed exempting those people who may also be patients or caregivers under the state's medical marijuana act.

"It should not be necessary for somebody to have every aspect of their life in public if they are running a medical marijuana dispensary," she said.

Briere failed to get support from any other member of council except for Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward. Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward, was absent.

Briere said her concern — one shared by medical marijuana advocates — is the city might inadvertently compile a list of names of patients and caregivers that could end up in the hands of federal authorities. She said they should be able to maintain their anonymity.

"Anonymity from what? What are they trying to hide?" said Council Member Stephen Rapundalo, D-2nd Ward, who strongly disagreed with Briere.

Rapundalo said he saw "no issue whatsoever" with requiring stakeholders in a marijuana business to list their names on an application. If they're following state law and operating a legitimate business, he said, they should have nothing to worry about.

"I mean, all we're asking for is who's the owners? That's it," he said. "I don't see what we're trying to protect here. What kind of rights would we be violating of theirs?"

Hieftje agreed the owners of a dispensary should be identified, at the very least, so it's clear who the responsible party is if someone gets sick from the product and wants to sue.

At the start of the discussion, Briere handed out a one-page sheet containing several amendments she planned to bring forward. But any push to have the council rewrite the ordinance on the fly was cut short when council members decided it wasn't the best approach.

"This is now the second time we've had a series of amendments on the fly," said Council Member Tony Derezinski, D-2nd Ward.

Council members instead agreed to submit all proposed changes and questions to the city attorney's office for review in advance of the council's next meeting.

Four medical marijuana advocates, including Dennis Hayes, addressed the council during public input at the start of Tuesday's meeting.

"This is a law that is designed to help patients and to assist the caregivers who provide care for the patients," Hayes said, referring to the state's medical marijuana act.

Criticizing in particular the rule that a patient's name must be on a label, Hayes said the city's proposed regulations were "totally contrary" to the community's history and tradition of tolerance toward medical marijuana.

Chuck Ream, a longtime medical marijuana advocate who opened a dispensary on Packard Road near Iroquois Place last year, questioned part of the ordinance that states dispensaries must keep records of who they receive marijuana from and must make those records available to the city "upon request." He called that "chilling" and "illegal."

"As we speak, the feds are already going after the records of patients and caregivers in Michigan," Ream told council members.

Gersh Avery, a medical marijuana advocate from Dexter, agreed any collection of lists would be attractive to federal officials.

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


shadow wilson

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 1:26 a.m.

This whole thing is a joke. The idea that these advocates are anything other then addicts seeking their drug of choice is transparent to all but the most gullible and callow persons alive. Marijuana is not a pain reliever.If one is in pain there are countless medications that are actually made for just that purpose. Of course I don't care if you all want to get high. Do it up. But don't get up in front of council and blather on about privacy and no revealing of names; that is paranoia. You look silly <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 3:08 a.m.

One would think the DEA and ONDCP has doctors or scientists on staff. Sadly this is not so - we would like to see that changed and believe it is a step to change. Please sign the letter petition to appoint a doctor or scientist to the DEA and ONDCP. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Thank you!


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 12:48 a.m.

@Forever27 I did misunderstand your objection and you raise a valid point.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:50 p.m.

EyeHeartA2- I think your right. No point reading anymore


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:07 p.m.

If i owned a dispensary, i would create about ten shell corporations. Each shell would hold a percentage of the other shell corps, basically making it a web with no owner. When they asked who owned the dispensary I would list the name of the corps. Hence, if they asked who the shareholders of those corps are, it would simply be the other corps. I may be ceo, but good luck piercing one of the many veils. . .


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

@ffej440 - Michigan voted in support of marijuana use for cancer patients under going chemo therapy – which based on the number of cards issued must be a "pandemic" these days. LOL …except that nobody, especially "the press", whose job used to be vetting issues like this, read the law behind the ballot and now voters who unwittingly supported it have been humiliated. Once again, this generation of reporters has FAILED us. Expensive law firms and marijuana activists wrote this legislative trap. Once past, they counted on liberal judges to render decisions that would interpret the law in a manor that would legalize marijuana use in Michigan, loosely following the California model. …except that when writing the law they lost focus, as marijuana activists tend to do, and it is marginally better then California's. But is still psychedelic enough to make the law firms who helped "write it" nice fat profits litigating it in court (another key objective). Fortunately for Michigan Voters, judges have not marched toward legalization as the activists had hoped. Comparing what was promoted to how the law was written, I think it is fair to say that Michigan voters were mislead and thanks to the incompetent press, had no idea of the mess they were voting to create. You seem to like facts so here's one: The FACT is that Ann Arbor failed to regulate zoning prior to this infestation and the City is now stuck with them…..which suites many just fine.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

@ffej440; I can't find any comment by anybody named shepard145. Wait, are you sure you didn't imagine it?


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

@Forever27 &quot;When these regulations are applied to the drug stores such as CVS and Wallgreens I'll take them seriously&quot; You are kidding right? Which CVS or Wallgreens can I go into and not have them ask my name and address when they give me ANY prescription?


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

names and addresses isn't what I was criticizing. Redrawing the zoning map of a city in order to curtail the development of one business is the hypocrisy I am upset about. All I ask is that they treat this medicine the same way they treat all the rest.

average joe

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

@ffej440- Concerning &quot;the large drop in crime in Cal. cities with dispensaries....&quot; , I guess one could only draw two conclusions from that &quot;fact&quot;. One, the people contributing to the higher crime rate (before the dispensaries were legal)were only trying to meet their medical needs, &amp; two, the people that were contributing to the higher crime rate are now buying it from legal dispensaries but for only recreational use. Sounds like an un-useful &quot;fact&quot; for your viewpoint.

Tony Dearing

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

Comments were removed because of name-calling.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

@ shepard145- Comments like this make people in the middle (like myself) lean liberal.&quot; Now that we are infested with &quot;dispensaries&quot; and the problems that go with them&quot; That statement shows you are not speaking fact which makes the rest get &quot;Tuned Out&quot;. As a patient I can assure you we are not &quot;infested&quot; in fact I wonder where all these dispensaries are, since I only know of three in AA.(Hard to find with signage rules) &quot;The problems that go with them&quot; I assume you base on the MML white paper which when fact checked is full of misinformation. If you check crime stats in Cali. cities with dispensaries you will see a large drop in crime since they passed medical cannabis.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

It's remarkable how similar all liberal slackers are when they land in public office and actually need to do some work rather then just shoot off their mouths about what everyone else is doing. There is no better example of that then the democrat houses making a huge mess of basic business of government at the federal level. ...bankrupt California is an even better example. As others have observed, leftist socialist democrats are really a protest organization that is poorly equipped to actually govern anything. Ann Arbor is a micro version of that. They had all the rights that every other community has to address the medical weed problem but these &quot;elected officials&quot; simply failed to do their jobs or equally likely, winked their approval as the drug they love so much was welcomed to our City. Now that we are infested with &quot;dispensaries&quot; and the problems that go with them, they've suddenly rolled over, shut off their alarm clocks and have to appear interested. Regardless of what Mayor Heiftje says today, the door was left open for anyone who wanted to open a dispensary for far to long so regardless of what the City says now, they're here to stay.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 11:32 p.m.

Nooo… Every time you read a reference to a leftist socialist obama style democrat from this moment until he's defeated in 2012, American Voters will be referring to the kind of European style nanny state that has bankrupt much of that continent -and they are not trying to reverse. we learned something today. Bailing out banks while seizing auto companies and 1/6 of the nation's economy are symptoms of this socialist democrat disease. Again, so many leftists just BEG us to ignore the FACT that "Wall Street" and the entire east coast from NC to Main voted for your hero obama! He rewarded his "Wall Street" insider buddies with fat TARP bailouts and cabinet./Tsar positions since day one. ….but you still think they voted Republican? LOL. Conservative Presidents who defend the United States in time of conflict do not "balance budgets". In fact, following playboy Clinton's gutting of our National Defense as terrorists trained for two years to fly airliners (but not land them) in Florida, George W. Bush had the additional duty to put it back together….so thank him again when you get a chance. I can tell you that I'm not part of the "work part time at the car wash and live in mom's basement" complex.

David Briegel

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:51 p.m.

Shep, &quot;leftist, socialist&quot;, you left out communist. Bankrupt? You mean like those Conservatives that run Wall St or the 20 years of Conservative Presidents who never balanced a budget? Too big to fail but not too big to plunder our fellow citizens! And you really must be part of the failed war on drugs or the prison industrial complex.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Your comment is troubling. Not only is it libelous and misinformed, you lump all those who do not subscribe to your partisan ideology as slackers. You might want to change your screen name from shepard to sheep.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

How much more money do we want to spend in pursuit of legitimately licensed medical marijuana patients, dispensaries and benign pot smokers? Law enforcement and the prison business has a vested interest in this &quot;game&quot;. Fewer &quot;criminals&quot; in jail mean fewer law enforcement jobs and lower profits for privately operated prisons. Who's pocket in Rapundalo in? Law enforcement and private prisons that are sucking the treasury dry or 74% of state voters who think that patients can handle their own medical affairs?


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 3 p.m.

It appears that the owners or would-be owners of medical marijuana dispensaries in A2 prevaricate when it comes to playing by the game that they wish to be included in. If you want to be taken as legitimate, you have to play by the rules that apply to other pharmacies/ drug despensaries. I think it's foolish to continually seek exceptions and weekends their argument to be taken seriously.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 5:50 p.m.

Is there a city ordinance requiring all pharmacies to register their suppliers with the city?


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

When these regulations are applied to the drug stores such as CVS and Wallgreens I'll take them seriously. All the &quot;concerns&quot; about dispensaries is nothing but veiled paranoia and fear mongering. Far more danger exists with the distribution of Oxycontin and Vicotin than with Marijuana, but we don't see this type of governmental interference with the zoning.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

Why would the patient name have to be on the bottle? Unlike other drugs a patient must carry a card to use, so a name on the meds is not needed. I have too many scripts to carry bulky bottles, so like most people the pills are in a small bottle and I keep a copy of the script with me. I think the only reason a pharm script comes with a name is for police identification and as I said if you use another container you better carry your script.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

When Stephen Rapundalo allows me to look in his medicine cabinet, his bedroom, bathroom, basement and his dresser drawers I'll be happy to let him look in mine. What does he have to hide? What is wrong with these people? There is a State law that allows patients to grow and consume marijuana. 74% of the voters, a broad mandate, voted to allow this! Rapundalo suffers from Reefer Madness and like most Republicans, he wants to monitor what we do in the privacy of our own homes especially when it involves the legal use of marijuana.

average joe

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

As far as packaging label requirements, except for perhaps the patient's name, the info the city wants on the label is required by state law to be there anyway since it is a product being sold at retail. If this product is for medicinal purposes, then shouldn't it have the patient's name on it too? Since the patient is using the product on a regular basis, and not just occasionally, this should be the bare minimum info required. The 'provider' or grower should want the 'warning' label on the package for legal protection from a lawsuit, unless of course the services provided are not legal themselves. Which raises a question, maybe the city should require the 'operator' to have liability insurance. Shouldn't be hard to get since this is a legal business now.

Mike Bravo

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 12:10 p.m.

The only thing good about legalizing marijuana is....... uhhh....... I forgot. What was I talking about?

rusty shackelford

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

That joke was lame the first time. 500 times later it's--wait, let me check--still lame.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 11:36 a.m.

Even though I am not a marijuana advocate. This is typical of our &quot;leadership&quot;here in Ann Arbor. Make a decision! The only time this administration can make a timely decision is when they are telling another state what to do! I go to the pharmacy they need my name. I put something on layaway they need my name. I get my car fixed they need my name. I walk in a school they need my name. I buy a can of spray paint they want to see my drivers license. ( I'am 60 years old!) Why should this be any different?