Jackson Council Passes Medical Marijuana Ordinance Amid Protests

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

An ordinance in Jackson regulating the growing and use of medical marijuana was passed by city council Tuesday night, but not before dozens of protesters took to the street outside City Hall.

They argue the ordinance doesn't do enough to protect medical marijuana users and is unconstitutional.

Joe Cain, the CEO of the National Medical Marijuana Association who organized Tuesday's rally said he was outraged at what the city council was attempting to do.

"The city has proposed an ordinance that's unconstitutional and illegal," Cain said. "It places undue hardships on our patients and even places them in harm's way."

Cain also said the ordinance flies in the face of the state's medical marijuana law.

"The people passed a state law, they expected us to take care of the sick people, that was the point," he said. "Now these folks are scared and we've had the government repress us and throw us in jail and scare us to death."

Despite the chants and sizable turnout council passed the ordinance by a 4-3 vote with Council members Kimberly Jaquish, Andrew Frounfelker and Derek Dobies voting against it.

The ordinance was passed only after council removed two of the three most controversial provisions after a large outcry in July when the ordinance was first introduced.

Provisions that would've required a patients to get additional licensing from the state as well as required a patient get permission from a landlord before growing medical marijuana were taken out of the final version.

However, the final version of the ordinance still stipulated that patients could use no more than 20 percent of their residence for growing and consumption.

Council member Laura Dwyer Schlecte who voted in favor the ordinance said she thought it was fair given the provisions that were changed.

"There is not going to be any ordinance that is 100 percent for everyone in a community," Dwyer Schlecte said. "This ordinance addresses the concerns for the people who want to do medical marijuana in their residence and takes into consideration the neighbors next to them who don't do medical marijuana."

Following the vote Cain said he would be encouraging other advocates not to follow the new ordinance and added he plans to sue if the city attempts to enforce the new ordinance.

The ordinance will go into effect on Sept. 12.

During Tuesday night's meeting the council also had the opportunity to take up the petition looking to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. The council could've either passed it themselves or made a motion to have it placed on the November ballot.

They chose to let the voters decide and place it on the ballot in November.

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