On Tuesday, November 10th, the Warren City Council held a public hearing regarding a proposed medical marijuana ordinance being championed by Mayor Jim Fouts. Fouts claims the ordinance is in response to concerns about growing medical marijuana in residential areas, including a house explosion on Harold street on September 28th that was reportedly due to butane hash oil extraction being performed inside of the home.
The Warren ordinance seeks to:
- Prohibit the consumption of marihuana in any area of any property open to the public or in a non-public area of a property where the owner has prohibited it
- Prohibit the transfer of marihuana at a caregiver’s residential dwelling
- Prohibit the odor of marihuana from being emitted beyond the interior of a structure
- Demands ventilation, filtration, and exhaust equipment to control the odor of marihuana
- Prohibits the growing, manufacturing, or processing of marihuana by a caregiver outside of an M-1 or M-2 industrial district. A qualifying patient may grow marihuana in their home, but only after registering and submitting a plan with the city’s building department and allowing inspections by both the building and fire departments
- Demands that, if a fire occurs as a result of the growth, cultivation, or processing of medical marihuana, that the qualifying patient be responsible for all emergency response costs or injuries which result
- Demands that when medical marihuana is transported inside of a motor vehicle, that it only be done in a sealed and locked container which is not readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle.
Violation of the proposed ordinance would be misdemeanors.
During public testimony, Southfield attorney Michael Komorn said, “There is an old saying for lawyers: When you don’t have the facts, argue the law, and when you don’t have the law, argue the facts.” Komorn went on to say, “After reading these proposed amendments, I can tell they have neither.” Attorney after attorney echoed Komorn’s sentiment, stating the proposed ordinance was unconstitutional and in direct conflict with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act as well the Supreme Court opinion issued in Ter Beek v City of Wyoming. In addition, several residents also testified about how they would be negatively affected should the ordinance pass.
After enduring 2 hours of public testimony, of which none was in support of the ordinance, Council President Cecil St Pierre stated that the Council had “received an education” regarding the proposed ordinance and a motion was passed to table the first reading of the ordinance for further discussion by the committee of the whole. Several Council members, including Council Secretary Scott Stevens, pressed to have a motion to deny heard – a vote, however, never materialized. It is expected that a revised ordinance will appear on the Council’s agenda sometime in the next several months.