2017-09-14 / Front Page

Davison City Council holds medical marijuana public hearing

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DAVISON – Monday’s public hearing on medical marijuana drew a large crowd with opposing opinions about how the Davison City Council should approach the impending licensure of commercial medical marijuana facilities.

The meeting was attended by community members, non-community members, lawyers, local business people, a county commissioner and law enforcement.

The underlying theme quickly became the medical benefits of marijuana versus the legality of selling and using marijuana under federal law.

According to Davison city planner Alan Bean, and city attorney Rhonda Stowers, medical marijuana is still an illegal Schedule 1 substance under federal law. County Commissioner David Martin told the city council, “I would caution you on violating state and federal laws.”

New state legislation sets guidelines for commercial cultivation, processing, testing, transportation and sale of medical marijuana. The state will begin processing license applications for all five operations in December, and all communities are automatically “opted out” unless they chose to allow any or all of the operations. The new laws do not affect home-grows.

Before the public hearing started, a one-hour informational session was held during which Bean, Stowers, and several medical marijuana industry representatives spoke.

Notwithstanding federal legal prohibition of medical marijuana, several audience members shared their emotional stories of how medical marijuana helped them.

Connie Howland of Davison is a cancer survivor, and during chemotherapy, only medical marijuana helped her with the resulting pain and nausea.

“I go to the dispensary because I am comfortable and I know I am safe,” Howland said. “I want the relief that medical marijuana gives me. What would my mom want me to do? Go to the corner … or go someplace safe, where I know it is being monitored?”

Jamie Fricke, owner of a Davison medical marijuana dispensary, said, “What these places do is give your elderly and your sick a safe place to get their medicine. I would encourage anybody to come into my store and educate yourselves.”

Despite several stories of the benefits of medical marijuana, at the end the federal prohibition issue came up. Upon being questioned by Councilwoman Joan Snyder, Davison Police Chief Don Harris said, “When I took this job, I swore to uphold all the laws of the federal government, state of Michigan. At this current time, marijuana is illegal on the federal level, so I have to abide by what the laws are, the federal laws, the laws of the state of Michigan and the city of Davison.”

Councilwoman Snyder then asked Davison City Manager Andrea Schroeder for her input regarding a possible medical marijuana ordinance, and she said, “There’s a lot to know and learn, I don’t think we’re there yet. I’m not a police officer and I’m not the chief, but as the city manager, I take the same oath.”

Stowers, the city attorney, summed it up best, “A lot of municipalities have said ‘let’s hold off a year and see what happens’ with the state law and how it is going to actually work. The city can choose to do nothing. There are a lot of unknowns.”

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