SB 660, the highly controversial pot-for-pharmacies bill, was run through both houses of legislature and signed by Governor Rick Snyder in the last two months of 2013. That bill contained language that prevents any local community from refusing to participate in the program- and that has riled up the leaders in one Oakland County community.
Walled Lake has about 7,000 people and sits in the southern part of the county. A January 10 articleappearing in the West End Monthly, a local publication, reported that a city council meeting laid out Walled Lake’s plans to “wash their hands of such businesses in the future.”
“We aren’t in the marijuana facility or dispensary business anymore,” said Walled Lake City Manager Dennis Whitt. “That’s all over with.”
The Council enacted a 120-day moratorium against new marijuana businesses in August; the city’s existing ordinance, which licensed the two dispensaries, expired in December and was not renewed. The moratorium is now being used as justification to refuse renewal of the licenses for the two existing business, per a Channel 7 News report.
SB 660 is now known as Public Act 268 of 2013. ”Local ordinances regarding pharmaceutical-grade cannabis would be preempted by regulations set forth in the act, with exception to the number of facilities allowed and reasonable zoning regulations,” reported the Monthly article.
PA 268 would establish a system of state-regulated and controlled commercial marijuana farms. Marijuana produced on the farms would be tested for heavy metals and anaerobic bacteria before being irradiated and sent off to big-box pharmacies, where it would be distributed to a group of patients that is completely separate from the 145,000 participants in the state’s existing medical marijuana program.
SB 660 does not give local authorities the right to refuse a marijuana farm in their district, but Walled Lake has devised a way around that policy- exclusionary zoning. “City attorney Val Vanerian said he still needs to review the new law, but that if it does preempt the local regulation of marijuana dispensaries, the city could regulate their locations through zoning ordinances,” the Monthly stated.
PA 268 went into effect on Dec. 30, 2013. Or did it?
The pot-for-pharmacies program is law but cannot take effect until the federal government changes the scheduling of marijuana on the list of controlled substances. Currently, marijuana- even medical marijuana- is classified as the worst drug of all, Schedule 1, meaning it is highly addictive and has no medicinal value. Pharmacists can’t handle any Schedule 1 drug or they risk losing their license to distribute pharmaceuticals. A change to Schedule 2 on the list is required for PA 268 to begin, and even then the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has 180 days to create rules for the new program.
Although the issue of changing marijuana’s Schedule status is a hot topic, there is no reason to believe that it will take place anytime soon. The DEA and the Food and Drug Administration have the joint responsibility to maintain or change a drug’s Schedule status. Congress has acted to place a drug on the list and could alter a substance’s listing. The President’s ability, or lack thereof, to manipulate marijuana’s status on the Controlled Substances List sparked a heated debate which has not yet been fully resolved.
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