By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.- During the regular Tuesday night meeting, the board of trustees passed a second reading of the Marijuana Caregiver Ordinance, 6-1. They also passed second reading of amendments to the C-4 Mixed Business and the Generalized Industrial districts zoning. Trustee Bob Marshall voted against the ordinance and amendments.
The board is looking at this as a starting point for restrictions in the future to prevent illegal marijuana grow operations in the township.
“We have several, more than two, homes in this community, where people have paid cash for the home, where they have a pole barn structure, they’re not even living in the home, and they’re obviously having a grow operation going on,” said trustee Bob Marshall, who voted against the ordinance and amendments because he felt they were not restrictive enough. “I did some of my own investigation, I’ve had some conversations with area township supervisors. This is happening everywhere. I sent my findings to the state police, and they backed away, they didn’t want to touch it.”
Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Brandon Substation commander Lt. Greg Glover also said that many prosecutor’s offices across the state do not want to be the test case for the state of Michigan when it comes to illegal grow operations.
“I can tell you from the very first conversations of when this law was passed, everybody knew it was going to be a nightmare because nothing was specific enough,” he said. “It will fall on the building department or whoever your ordinance enforcement officer is to enforce this.”
The ordinance restricts caregivers growing marijuana for patients to the C-4 Mixed Business zone and the Generalized Industrial zone. It would also require caregivers to have an annual permit. The cost for a permit will be set at a later date.
Under current rules, caregivers can grow 12 plants for every patient under their care, as well as 12 for themselves if they too are medical marijuana patients. The permitting ordinance would require the caregiver to provide information on who they are growing plants for. The permit would also have to be renewed annually.
A recent Michigan Supreme Court decision upheld a local zoning ordinance that regulated caregiver growing operations. Now, Brandon along with other townships are using the April 2020 high court ruling in DeRuiter vs. Township of Byron that municipalities can now regulate zoning for medical marijuana grow facilities.
In a unanimous decision, the high court voted to allow for “reasonable zoning” for caregiver growing. Caregivers will now also need permission and require a permit from municipalities prior to starting an operation.
However, the permit requirement does not effectively prohibit the medical marijuana use, said the court. Michigan is just one of 12 states that have legalized marijuana.
While this is just one step in regulation, the board also discussed having a meeting at a later date to discuss what else could be done to prevent illegal grow operations in the township, such as a restriction on excessive smell or amp usage for outbuildings.