The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Court ruling will change marijuana ordinance


May 9, 2020


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Ironwood — In his COVID-19 update to the commission, Tom Bergman, director of Ironwood community development, said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s changes to the stay-at-home order on Thursday include extending the state’s open meeting law that allows the city meetings to be held online using virtual meeting apps through the expiration of the order on May 28.

In the meantime, the city offices are already planning a scaled return to normal service, he said. The staff are working at home and come in to conduct needed work in offices using staggered shifts to avoid contact. 

The community development staff are working on long-term, projects but spend most of the time conducting small business outreach to update people on the latest recovery grant and loan opportunities, he said.

In his update on the adult use marijuana establishments zoning ordinance, Bergman said that legal counsel was reviewing the changes requested from the city commission, but are now reviewing the entire document based on a recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling.

The Michigan Supreme Court on April 27, ruled that the town of Byron did not violate caregiver protections under the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act which allows an individual to grow up to 72 plants for five patients who have a medical marijuana permit.

The ruling clarifies that local ordinances placing zoning or other restrictions that are consistent with the limitations of the 2008 MMMA are not contradicting state law, according to a review of the Cannabis Legal Group in Michigan.

“The court found there was nothing in the MMMA law that prohibits the zoning enabling act,” Bergman said. 

The city now has the authority to determine where caregivers are in the community, he said. This is a big change from the previous interpretation that said municipalities did not have zoning authority for medical marijuana growers, he said.

“There are a bunch of moving pieces, including our existing zoning ordinance and how that applies,” Bergman said.

The work now is to review the downtown exemption in the draft ordinance and the definition of agricultural use. There are also questions about medical growers in the downtown when they cannot be open to the public at the same time downtown businesses must operate with at least 50% retail service.

The language of the revised ordinance limited all caregivers to industrial zone districts, he said. Going forward there will be areas where the ordinances will need to adjust accordingly.

“The city attorney is discussing the nuances of the new law and how it applies in Ironwood,” Bergman said. “We will be meeting again to put together the pieces into a new draft they can look at in future meetings.”

The next Ironwood Planning Commission meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 7. The meeting will be held via zoom with a link available through the community development office.


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