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City of Wyoming's medical marijuana ban goes up in smoke

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Court of Appeals has struck down a city ordinance banning medical marijuana. Supporters of the voter approved medical marijuana law are calling it a huge victory.

The Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming is one of several Michigan cities or townships that have restricted the medical marijuana act voters passed in 2008.

Wyoming resident and medical marijuana patient John Ter Beek sued the city in 2010. Shortly after the ACLU joined the case.

The ACLU is suing Wyoming and the Detroit suburb of Birmingham because these two cities completely banned medical marijuana – citing federal drug laws.

On Wednesday the Court of Appeals ruled cities cannot ban medical marijuana because state law allows it.

Dan Korobkin is an attorney with the ACLU. He argued the case on behalf of Ter Beek.

“Once Michigan makes that decision it’s a decision the whole state has to abide by. You can’t have little cities and townships going around making their own rules when the state law is clear,” Korobkin said.

“The voters of Michigan wanted to make it clear that if you are using medical marijuana in compliance with this law you can’t be punished,” Korobkin said.

The court agrees; as long as patients are abiding by state laws, local unit of government cannot punish them. The judges say the state law does not conflict with the federal controlled substances act. Any violations of that act are up to the federal government to prosecute, not the local governments.

A similar case against Birmingham is pending.

Wyoming’s city manager said the city’s attorney hadn’t yet had a chance to review the ruling. He said the city hasn’t decided yet whether it’ll appeal the decision to Michigan’s Supreme Court.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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