MI Supreme Court rules on local Rx pot ordinance

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that says the state Medical Marijuana Act trumps local ordinances that make it illegal for legal medical marijuana users to have the drug.

Wyoming resident John Ter Beek, a lawyer who has diabetes and back problems, got a medical marijuana card in 2009 to help him deal with pain. Since then, he has been growing and smoking his own supply.

But in 2010, after voters legalized medical marijuana use statewide, Wyoming adopted a new zoning ordinance that essentially said residents could not violate federal laws in the city. That would include growing and possessing marijuana.

So Ter Beek filed a lawsuit.

Last year, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled against the city after Ter Beek argued Wyoming’s ordinance amounted to a ban on the voter-approved state law.

The city appealed the ruling, sending the case to Michigan’s highest court.

Thursday, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Court of Appeal’s ruling.

“Unanimous decision tells you something,” Cooley Law Professor Curt Benson said. “It was not that difficult to call.”

Benson said the state law trumps the city ordinance.

“Since the Wyoming ordinance says you can’t violate federal law, there is no conflict between the Michigan Constitution and the federal anti-marijuana laws,” he said.

Benson said Wyoming is allowed to fight the ruling in federal court, but that probably won’t happen because the city is likely to lose.

“I’m happy this is over now. And now maybe the city can get on to other business they should be doing instead of making ordinances that are absolutely unconstitutional,” Ter Beek said.

The Supreme Court issued the following ruling:

“For the foregoing reasons, we hold that the Ordinance is preempted by § 4(a) of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which in turn is not preempted by the federal controlled substances act. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals, reverse the circuit court’s grant of summary disposition in favor of the City, and remand for entry of summary disposition in favor of Ter Beek.”

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