GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Local governments cannot pass rules restricting where medical marijuana growers can operate if there is no conflict with state law, the Michigan Court of Appeals says.
Justices upheld a Kent County ruling against a Byron Township ordinance that limited medical marijuana operations to residential areas.
Grand Rapids attorney David Dodge said the ordinance made little sense because most people would rather see marijuana grown somewhere other than a neighborhood. Byron Township’s “home occupation’’ ordinance precluded Dodge’s client from using a warehouse.
“She was in a non-descript setting, a warehouse setting,’’ Dodge said. “It’s worse to have it in a neighborhood, a home setting.’’
In a seven-page decision released this week, the Appeals Court said Byron Township’s zoning ordinance was improper.
State law “essentially provides that caregivers may operate so long as they comply with the enclosed, locked facility requirements,’’ the three-judge panel wrote in a published decision.
An attorney representing Byron Township did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.
Christie DeRuiter, a registered medical marijuana patient and caregiver, was growing plants in an enclosed, locked facility at a commercial location in Byron Township. She got a letter in March, 2016 from the township supervisor telling her the grow operation was in violation of local zoning.
DeRuiter sued the township, arguing its ordinance upended what was already permitted by state law. Byron Township countersued. It said the ordinance did not prohibit grow facilities, just restricted where they could operate. A Kent County judge sided with DeRuiter, saying the local ordinance conflicted with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.
In upholding the Kent County ruling, justices said the law grants registered caregivers “the rights and privileges to grow medical marijuana without fear of penalties imposed by local governments.’’
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.