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Alpena council expected to vote on pot issues in March

Submitted by on February 21, 2019 – 12:56 amNo Comment

The Alpena Municipal Council is expected to vote in March on a new ordinance that would ban all marijuana-related businesses from operating within the city limits.

Council received a first reading of the ordinance this week.

A vote to “opt in” and allow medical marijuana facilities could come as early as April.

Council also discussed a second ordinance that would prohibit public consumption of marijuana, in any form, in all city-owned buildings, parks, beaches, the marina and all other public spaces.  Violators would be subject to a fine not to exceed $500.

But when the second ordinance comes back to council in March it will not include all forms of marijuana.  That’s because councilwoman Amber Hess appears to have been successful in changing the minds of her peers that certain forms of medical marijuana should not be banned in public spaces.

Hess agrees with a ban on smoking marijuana in public, but noted that cancer patients and others who legally use the drug for medicinal purposes also consume it in the form of pills and other edibles.  If medical marijuana patients need to take their medicine in public they should be allowed to, Hess argued.  It appears some other members of council agree, including Mayor Matt Waligora.

Waligora believes council’s original intent was to stop people from smoking the drug while walking down the street or in parks and beaches.  He doesn’t believe council meant to intrude on the rights of legal medical marijuana patients.

While it appears council will ban recreational marijuana businesses from operating within the city limits, a ban of medical marijuana businesses is less likely, although still possible.  Council is waiting on a report from the planning commission before taking a vote that would allow medical marijuana businesses.

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