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The Washtenaw County Circuit Court Rules That City Zoning laws Are Not Preempted By The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act

March 12, 2013 Medical Marijuana

In the first court challenge to a city’s ability to enforce zoning laws concerning medical marijuana activity, the Washtenaw County Circuit Court held that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act does not preempt city zoning ordinances.

Previous challenges to city zoning laws regarding the MMMA, such as in Ter Beek v. City of Wyoming, were based on a city’s attempt to ban medical marijuana activity because federal law makes such activity illegal.

Last year, an Ypsilanti Township couple was charged with growing marijuana in their home in an amount in excess of that allowed by the city zoning ordinance regulating.

Related: Michigan Court of Appeals Strikes Down Zoning Ordinance Prohibiting Medical Marijuana Use

The couple asserted that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act protects them from the zoning ordinance.  The MMMA permits qualifying patients to use marijuana for medical conditions and for registered caregivers to grow and provide marijuana to patients, under certain conditions. Qualifying patients may grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal use and caregivers may grow up to 72 plants for patients and themselves.

The MMMA does not address city zoning laws. The Ypsilanti Township zoning code permits patients to grow marijuana in residential areas but not caregivers.

The MMMA, the couple argued, preempts local ordinances. Preemption is where one law is given effect over another law when two laws are in direct conflict. This argument would make the zoning ordinance unenforceable.

The Circuit Court ruled against the couple, stating that,“there are no provisions in the MMMA that prohibit municipalities from adopting zoning ordinances regulating where medical marijuana caregivers can grow and dispense marijuana for other patients.”

Contact ArborYpsi Law at 734-883-9584 or at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com to speak with attorney Sam Bernstein.

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