Local Government Law Bulletin April 29, 2020 Ronald M. Redick

Mika Meyers’ Attorneys Help Secure Michigan Supreme Court Victory Concerning Local Regulation of Medical Marijuana Caregivers

On April 27, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its unanimous opinion in DeRuiter v Twp of Byron, holding that registered medical marijuana caregivers, operating under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (“MMMA”), are subject to municipal zoning ordinance provisions that regulate the location of such operations. The Court further held that registered caregivers are subject to the permitting and permit fees specified by municipal zoning ordinances. In so holding, the Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision of the Court of Appeals, which had held that the MMMA preempted all local regulation of registered caregivers.

Mika Meyers’ attorneys Ronald Redick and Ross Leisman, who represented Byron Township as co-counsel in the DeRuiter case, successfully argued that the MMMA does not preempt municipal zoning provisions, absent a direct conflict with a provision of the MMMA. The Supreme Court agreed that, because the MMMA does not address the permissible locations for the operations of registered caregivers, nor address local permit or permit fees for caregivers, there could be no conflict and, therefore, no preemption of local regulation of these subject matters. Accordingly, the Court upheld Byron Township’s caregiver regulations, which require caregivers to operate as a home occupation, and to obtain a home occupation permit.

Although the holding of the DeRuiter case was limited to locational and permitting requirements for caregivers, it likely has significantly broader application to other types of local caregiver regulations. The Court noted, more generally, that the MMMA does not nullify a municipality’s inherent authority to regulate land use under the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, “so long as the municipality does not prohibit or penalize all medical marijuana cultivation” and “does not impose regulations that are ‘unreasonable and inconsistent with regulations established by state law.’” Conceivably, therefore, the DeRuiter opinion could open the door for municipalities to regulate certain other aspects of caregiver operations, such as marijuana odors, waste management, signage, parking, and other matters.

If your municipality is interested in adopting zoning regulations for registered caregivers, or enforcing caregiver regulations that your municipality has already adopted, please contact attorney Ronald Redick at rredick@mikameyers.com, or any of the other municipal attorneys at Mika Meyers.

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