ACLU sues cities over marijuana bans

Linda and Robert Lott want to grow marijuana in a Livonia warehouse and smoke it at a private social club Bloomfield Hills.

They also want to smoke marijuana inside their home in Birmingham.

Linda, 61, suffers from multiple sclerosis. Robert, 61, was recently diagnosed with glaucoma. Both husband and wife possess state-certified cards qualifying them as medical marijuana patients.

Yet they claim local ordinances in the three communities won’t let them.

“When Michigan voters passed the medical marijuana ballot initiative, I was relieved,” said Linda. “My doctor and I knew that it would help me fight the muscle spasms and painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis. What we didn’t realize is that it would be temporary. Instead of relief, I now live in fear that I could be arrested by local officials for following state law.”

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit against the cities of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Livonia on behalf of the Lotts. The lawsuit asks that the city ordinances be declared invalid and unenforceable against medical marijuana patients and caregivers who comply with the state law.

“The people of Michigan voted overwhelmingly in support of compassionate care for patients like Linda Lott whose pain can be eased by the use of medical marijuana,” said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director. “In a democracy, city commissions do not have the power to veto statewide ballot initiatives after they have been approved by the voters and enacted into law.”

Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved the Medical Marijuana Law in 2008. Since then, police and the courts have been scrambling for a clear understanding of how the law is supposed to work.

In the case of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Livonia, the three communities adopted ordinances banning medical marijuana because it’s still classified as a controlled substance by the federal government.

Birmingham was served with the lawsuit on Thursday. City Attorney Tim Currier said the City Commission will review the complaint and likely discuss it in closed session Monday. He also plans on meeting with Bloomfield Hills City Attorney Bill Hampton to go over the case.

According to the complaint, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, the Lotts own a warehouse in Livonia and are members of a private social club in Bloomfield Hills where they take classes and meet with friends.

Birmingham police said they’ve never had an encounter with either the husband or wife.


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