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Michigan City Dismisses Proposed Changes to Buffer Zones



[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]A[/dropcap]nn Arbor, Michigan’s city council decided to not add further restrictions on medical cannabis businesses in city limits.

On Sept. 4, the Ann Arbor City Council 6-3 voted to keep the city’s current regulations. Under the proposed ordinance changes, any businesses approved after Oct. 31 would have been subject to regulations including a buffer zone between cannabis businesses every 1,000 feet, and a 1,000-foot buffer zone between those businesses and schools, group homes, and child care centers.

Currently, there is a 600-foot buffer between businesses. Several members of Ann Arbor’s  medical community had attended the Aug. 23 meeting, stating their concerns over cannabis’ effects on unborn children and the risks to teenagers who consume cannabis. However, the final vote could not happen that night due to four members of the council being absent. They attended the meeting in support of several changes to city ordinances regarding cannabis business regulations.

Local cannabis activist and hopeful cannabis business owner Chuck Ream thanked the city council for not further restricting businesses, which would have signaled to local residents that there is something seriously wrong with cannabis. He spoke at an earlier meeting against the regulations, which would have put his intended business in another’s buffer zone.

Community members and medical professionals spoke before the vote Tuesday in favor of more regulation on cannabis in the city while supporting medical cannabis use.

“This is a commonsense way of diminishing the exposure that our youngest children have to marijuana,” said Dr. Anastasia Hryhorczuk of the University of Michigan about adding more restrictions on where dispensaries can be located. “We know that the research says that normalizing marijuana leads to kids who when they grow up are more likely to use marijuana at younger ages, more likely to endorse statements like ‘marijuana makes me a safe driver,’ and not be willing to abstain from it before those types of activities.”

“I think I’ve probably signed more applications for medical marijuana use for children than any other physician in the Children’s Hospital,” said Dr. Ken Pituch, a pediatrician at UM’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “All of these have been for children with either serious seizure disorders for whom other therapy has not worked, for kids with advanced cancer who use medical marijuana for their pain or severe nausea related to their chemotherapy, but all of these are children with severe life-limiting conditions.”

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