Following months of debates, New Baltimore City Council approved a medical marijuana ordinance Monday night.
The council majority approved the proposed ordinance allowing dispensaries in the city's industrial district, an area not far behind the U.S. Post Office off 23 Mile, Councilman Karl Rutledge said.
Under the ordinance, medical marijuana establishments cannot be within 1,200 feet of primary or secondary schools in the city, he said.
"I am glad that we have taken the first step," Rutledge, who also has served on the planning commission, said after the motion passed. "Now we have guidelines in place. It's very difficult to tell a business owner who you can and can't sell your property to."
The ordinance is aimed at setting clear, concise rules for would-be dispensaries in the city and helping police decipher between unlawful and lawful establishments, according to city officials.
Councilman Jeffrey Christie, who has favored residential cultivation, cast the sole dissenting vote. Christie scoffed at the ordinance that cites potential crime, electrical hazards and property damage as reasons for disallowing pot growth in homes. He and Councilman Ken Butler sought to pass residential cultivation, citing a majority of Michigan voters approved the Medical Marihuana Act in 2008.
The council majority also voted in favor of a medical marijuana dispensary moratorium from January until March 1. The moratorium has been extended multiple times, but this motion allows the city to get the dispensary ordinance in place. Christie and Butler cast opposing votes to this moratorium proposal.
City Attorney Jack Dolan said legal interpretation of the MMA is ongoing as cases filter through the court systems.
"This remains an area of evolution," he told council.