Medical marijuana advocates protesting pending decision by Ann Arbor City Council

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.

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