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No to medical marijuana zones — for now

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Southfield’s City Council voted unanimously tonight against proposed zoning regulations that would have allowed medical marijuana growing facilities in the city’s light industrial districts.
The vote came after more than a dozen residents — most opposed to the measure — and two lawyers debated the validity of the zoning. Most council members said they still needed to do more research. They then voted unanimously to extend the city’s 180-day moratorium from July — scheduled to end Friday — for another 180 days.
“Maybe it’s not our job to regulate at all,” said Councilman Kenson Siver, maintaining that he still supports Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act passed in 2008 but needs more information before passing local ordinances. “Maybe it’s something the state should figure out and not put us in this dilemma.”
The proposal would have allowed caregivers licensed through the state to grow up to 12 plants for themselves and 12 each for five licensed patients in light industrial districts along 8 Mile and Telegraph roads.
Councilman Sidney Lantz was the council’s most vocal opponent, saying those in need of medicinal marijuana’s benefits can buy pills for THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, through pharmacies.
“(It) will increase crime, will cost you money, and these people who are pushing it now don’t know what they’re doing,” Lantz said, addressing residents. “This could be the worst thing that could happen to you.”
Southfield lawyer Neil Rockind called the proposed zoning’s intensions great, but said the proposal violates state law by dictating where caregivers can grow and forcing them to disperse confidential personal information.
“This ordinance will be the subject of a lawsuit,” Rockind vowed, if the measure would have been passed.
John Smith, a resident since 1975 with a wife who is a hospice nurse, said he opposed the law only because he thought it would affect those growing at home. Southfield Planning Director Terry Croad said the proposal only addresses caregiver growing and residents can still grow plants for personal use.
Councilwoman Joan Seymour agreed with long-time resident Sabina Heller, who told the council said she now feels mislead by those who promoted Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act.
“I thought in my great innocence, ‘Why would they not would walk into a pharmacy and fill a prescription for marijuana like I do for my achy back or my achy legs?’ ” Heller said. “Please do not ruin this city where I’ve lived 45 years.”

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