LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) - The Michigan Supreme Court Thursday heard arguments on whether a Wyoming zoning ordinance restricting medical marijuana growth conflicts with state law.
It's something that effects many neighbors and on both sides of the fence: Those who under state law are allowed the use of medical marijuana and those who want some sort of medical marijuana restrictions or control.
"... Some of which appear to penalize or prohibit medical marijuana to some extent or the other," American Civil Liberties Union attorney Daniel Korobkin added.
He and the ACLU are representing John Ter Beek, a retired attorney and licensed medical marijuana user from Wyoming who is challenging the city.
Last year, the State Court of Appeals ruled against the city after Ter Beek argued Wyoming's zoning ordinance to restrict medical marijuana growth amounted to a ban on a voter-approved state law. The state law appears to specifically exclude local laws from preempting it.
The city appealed, sending the case to Michigan's highest court.
The preemption issue was one aspect state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. questioned Wyoming City Attorney Jack Sluiter about Thursday.
"This is arguably preemption language, isn't it?" asked the justice.
"It doesn't use that term, but-" Sluiter started to answer.
But Justice Young interjected, "So we have to use a magic word now? The people have to use magic words. Really?"
"I think you do," responded Sluiter.
The city's basic argument is that there can be rules regulating activity, even if the activity is considered legal, and that the medical marijuana law doesn't specifically rule out the use of local zoning laws.
That brought more questions from Chief Justice Young.
"What did they fail to say that allows you to say, 'We still have the authority under our zoning act'? To do what Wyoming did?" he asked.
"Because we're saying is where you can do it," answered Sluiter.
The other question is whether the state Medical Marijuana Act, or MMA, violates federal law prohibiting marijuana use.
No, argued the ACLU's Korobkin.
"I think it's absolutely clear that nothing in the MMA either does or seeks to block federal law enforcement of our marijuana laws," he said.
There is no word on when the high court will decide on the city's appeal.
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