Sterling Heights: City Amends Medical Marijuana Ordinance, Places Stricter Regulations On Registration

MICHIGAN:  Despite concerns raised by a former councilman that doing so would provide residents with easier access to the drug, the Sterling Heights City Council on Aug. 19 voted to amend Chapter 35 of the City Code to conform to state laws and regulations governing marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and to implement local regulations governing medical marijuana.

“The city has not updated its marijuana ordinances since 1983,” Police Chief Michael Reese wrote in a statement to the council. “The current ordinances only prohibit possession and do not address the ‘use’ of marijuana. In addition, the state’s ‘first offender’ legislation has been amended numerous times since 1983. Therefore, the proposed ordinance includes a new provision governing the use of marijuana and also includes the updated first offender provisions.”

According to Assistant City Attorney Don DeNault Jr., the amendment was introduced Aug. 6 in response to “significant” changes in state law over the past 20 or 30 years, the most dramatic of which occurred in 2008 when voters approved the Medical Marijuana Act – a statute authorizing its limited use, growth and distribution for certain medical conditions.

The Medical Marijuana Act changed the entire landscape as far as how law enforcement and fire departments have to deal with various marijuana-related issues within the community,” DeNault said. “It causes some confusion because neighbors and residents might think there’s illegal activity going on in a neighborhood or business.”