ACLU Sues Michigan Cities That Have Banned Medical Marijuana


Graphic: WWJ

​Saying the rights of patients are endangered, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan on Wednesday filed lawsuits against three metro Detroit communities that have passed ordinances banning medical marijuana.

The ACLU filed the suit against the cities of Livonia, Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills on behalf of a Birmingham couple who want to use medical marijuana in their home, take it to private clubs in Bloomfield Hills and grow it in the husband’s warehouse in Livonia, reports Bill Laitner of the Detroit Free Press.
The suit, filed on behalf of Linda and Robert Lott of Birmingham, alleges that the three cities have each adopted ordinances that effectively ban the couple and other patients from legally using medical marijuana as overwhelmingly approved by 63 percent of Michigan voters in 2008, reports RoNeisha Mullen of The Detroit News.

The medical marijuana law was approved by 71 percent of voters in Birmingham, 63 percent in Livonia and 62 percent in Bloomfield Hills.

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Dan Korobkin, ACLU: “When patients use medical marijuana in compliance with state law, they shouldn’t be penalized for it.”

​”We’re seeing a lot of cities that are passing very burdensome ordinances that stand in the way of patients and their doctors on this issue,” said ACLU attorney Dan Korobkin. “When patients use medical marijuana in compliance with state law, they shouldn’t be penalized for it.”
Officials of the three cities claimed they passed the ordinances to curtail “illegal drug dealing” and “other crimes” they feared would occur in their towns. They claimed the state law was “not specific enough” about how medical marijuana can be grown and distributed.
“Each of these cities has adopted an ordinance that effectively bans the use of medical marijuana,” said ACLU Executive Director Kary Moss.
Linda Lott, 61, has suffered from multiple sclerosis for 28 years, is legally blind and uses a wheelchair. She said she uses medical marijuana to control muscle spasms and ease her pain.
“It’s simply unfair for these cities to try to play doctor and tell me how to treat a disease I’ve lived with for 28 years,” she said. “I could have a terrible spasm, and a little bit of marijuana would take it away in just a few minutes.”
Cannabis has allowed the couple to “have a normal life again as husband and wife,” her husband Robert Lott said.
“I believe in the government staying out of my bedroom, staying out of my business, and I feel these cities are trying to dictate how I treat my wife’s debilitating disease,” Lott told radio station WWJ.
The lawsuit does not ask for any money, for it requests that each of the cities repeal their local anti-medical marijuana ordinances, which Korobkin called “egregious violations of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.”
The suit maintains that patients and caregivers who comply with state laws should not be prosecuted.
In July, the ACLU sent letters to Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills objecting to their ordinances, but “they wouldn’t back down,” according to Korobkin.
Local governments in Michigan have been struggling over how to interpret the state’s medical marijuana law. Some have adopted moratoriums on medical cannabis and others have banned it completely.
Some local police departments even claim federal drug laws banning marijuana for any purpose supersede Michigan’s medical cannabis law, and some patients who say they have the legal right to smoke pot have been arrested.