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Farmington Hills Officials Extend Medical Marijuana Moratorium

Officials say too much about the state's medical marijuana law is up in the air.

Farmington Hills officials Monday extended to March 2012 a nearly 10-month-old moratorium on land uses that involve medical marijuana.

Council members have struggled for months to come up with an ordinance that would regulate potential growers of the plant, without restricting use by registered medical marijuana users. They started with a zoning ordinance that would prohibit land uses violating federal, state or local laws. That would have effectively banned medical marijuana-related businesses in the community.

But concerns over violating the rights of caregivers, along with the shifting landscape around the issue statewide, led officials to table the proposed ordinance for further study. After extensive discussions and revisions, officials voted down an ordinance in July that would have regulated caregivers.

On Monday, city attorney Steve Joppich said the state of the law in Michigan hasn't changed since then. Cases involving medical marijuana are pending in Oakland County and around the state, and "a handful" of bills are pending in Lansing.

"Basically, I think, you can suffice it to say the law is in flux," Joppich said, "and the decisions made will affect the city's decision."

While he would normally not recommend extending an ordinance beyond a year, he said the purpose of a moratorium is to give officials time to study an issue before making a decision about it.

"Considering everything that's going on, I think we have a very unique situation," Joppich said, adding he would be comfortable going to court to defend the moratorium extension.

Council member Ken Massey emphasized officials have not wanted to "stand in people's way in terms of access. We want clarity."

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