Marijuana licensing discussed
Posted by dnewton09 (+91) 10 years ago
Marijuana licensing discussed
By Elaine Forman
At the last Miles City Council meeting, Councilman Leroy Meidinger raised the issue of enforcing business licensing ordinances when it comes to medical marijuana businesses that have never applied for the license.
The question of medical marijuana businesses breaking federal laws came up.
City Attorney Jerry Huss said President Obama indicated that the federal government would not interfere with state laws on the matter.
Councilman Mark Ahner said there are 14 states allowing some form of medical marijuana.
Mayor Joe Whalen talked about how those cities with the charter form of government, like Missoula, Bozeman and Billings, have developed restrictions concerning medical marijuana. Miles City does not have a charter form of government.
Huss said there is no problem with the city enforcing the requirement that home-occupied businesses be licensed by the city.
Whalen said if the city enforces business licensings on medical marijuana, it had better be enforcing licensing on all businesses.
Councilman John Uden, a former police officer, said he cannot go against the law (by allowing a marijuana business).
Whalen asked if the city wanted to address the issue now or wait and see what the Legislature will do when it meets.
Many in the state are waiting for legislative action.
Uden wanted it to be addressed now.
Councilman Leif Ronning said the council should wait.
"How can you condone violations of city ordinance?" Uden asked.
Ronning said there are many violations, and "this is one hot button issue."
Whalen again said that in regards to the home occupancy business license, it must be a "blanket enforcement," rather than picking out one industry.
He asked why the city had gone decades not enforcing its business licensing.
"We need to change the law, repeal the law or enforce the law," Whalen said.
No action was taken at the meeting.


I canot believe this has not hit the hot topic airwaves of Miles City.com so let me be the first to comment...
Mayor Whalen statement..."Whalen said if the city enforces business licensings on medical marijuana, it had better be enforcing licensing on all businesses."...did not get answered...my question...Why would enforcing the licensing law only be for one business and not all businesses....
Top
Posted by Joe Smity (+114) 10 years ago
Isn't Miles City part of Custer County, where we make up our own laws and don't have to pay attention to what the State and Federal law says?

Funny that Uden says that he can't go against the law. What law is he referring to, City, State or Federal? Since Montana allows medical marijuana and the President has stated that the Feds wouldn't interfere with States on the matter, is Uden saying that City law trumps State law? Isn't that the point that Whalen made, that Miles City is bound by State statute since it's not a charter city and can't create an ordinance that is in conflict with State statute? Just want to understand what Uden's actually saying, kinda hard to read through his grandstanding and understand if he's flipping or flopping on this.

Since the city council seems to be anti-business anyway (unless they have a personal involvement), I guess I'm not too surprised that some of them want to selectively apply the business license ordinance. Don't see where any of them have a stake in this, so it's no skin off their nose. And if they're not making a buck off it, why should anyone else?

As much as it pains me to say so, I actually think Ronning and Whalen make sense. The city council needs to decide what they're going to do on the business license issue and why they're going to do it now (not just because someone else is doing it, give a real reason that shows they've thought about it). If the State is unclear on the medical marijuana statute, press our state legislators to clarify the issue so people and cities know where they stand with regard to State law.

Heck, why don't they just hand the issue off the the City-County Planning board, they seem to be a magnet for trouble like this. Having them deal with it makes as much or more sense than some of the other stuff that board has been accused of.
Top
supporter
Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 10 years ago
my question...Why would enforcing the licensing law only be for one business and not all businesses


Elaine,

What the mayor is referring to may be the tendency of Miles Citians to open businesses, usually from their homes, without getting the required licenses. These businesses can run for years before anyone thinks to check if they have a valid business license. In some cases, the owners claim they are just doing a hobby and not a business and therefore don't need a license. The internet has made this even more prevalent.
Top
founder
supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+11757) 10 years ago
The City has a business license ordinance on the books. Back in the Reagan years, when the economy was terrible, the City Council decided that a $25 license would be the straw that broke the camel's back and stopped issuing licenses so that a business would have that extra $25 and thus be able to survive. The ordinance is still in writing but hasn't been enforced in 25 years or so.

The point is, you can't require one type of business to have a license when all other kinds don't have to have a license. Legally, all businesses operating in the city are to be licensed but none are. So why keep the ordinance if you aren't enforcing it?

Remember when there was a panic about dirty books or a strip club? Someone suggested that police do background checks on all employees in such a theoretical business. It was pointed out that one business cannot be required to do something unless all businesses are required to do so. It is illegal to create a requirement that singles out one type of business.

So, either bring back licenses for everybody or amend the ordinances to get rid of them but don't try to use them to control one type of business.

Oddly enough, the zoning commission brought this up in January, that zoning might come into play to regulate medical marijuana dealers, but nothing came of the letter we sent.
Top
supporter
Posted by Bridgier (+9195) 10 years ago
Oddly enough, the zoning commission brought this up in January, that zoning might come into play to regulate medical marijuana dealers, but nothing came of the letter we sent.


Well, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease...
Top
founder
supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+11757) 10 years ago
Possibly. But the discussion could have started back then. It didn't.
Top
Posted by Joe Smity (+114) 10 years ago
And why should the discussion have started then?

I mean come on, with the City Council and the County Commission, doesn't long term planning really mean short term crisis management? That way they can take the easy, non-researched, expensive solution instead of putting in the work to see if there's alternative.

After all, it's not like it's their money that they have to spend.

[This message has been edited by Joe Smity (12/25/2010)]

[This message has been edited by Joe Smity (12/25/2010)]
Top
Posted by mule train (+1055) 10 years ago
The city and county of Denver made roughly between $4.5 to 5 million dollars in 2010 off licenses and taxation of medical marijuana dispensaries. They expect to double that next year as there is a waiting list of around 100,000 people still waiting to get their licenses. It won't be long and pot will just be legal all together for adults 21 years and over. Soon, it will finance k-12 education in this state.

Miles City would be smart to forget about the whole "selling it out of their homes" stuff and start taxing the hell out of it. There is no law that says the city couldn't levy a 15% tax on medical marijuana. The city could pay for a few public works projects with that money.

I am not saying that MC is going to make 4-5 million dollars, but they might bring in around $250,000/year if they played their cards right and made MC the regional hub for "disabled" pot heads. Denver just hosted a convention which saw 50,000 people come.

It is my belief that marijuana tourism will be the future for Colorado. Considering the state is broke, it would be a smart move to booster the sluggish economy. I am fairly certain that in a few years, Colorado will have surpassed California as the premier destination for pot heads in the Western hemisphere. Potheads will need places to stay and of course food! More good news for the local economy.

[This message has been edited by mule train (12/27/2010)]
Top
Posted by Bruce Helland (+586) 10 years ago
Wow! A real 'Rocky Mountain High!'
Top
supporter
Posted by Stone (+1596) 10 years ago
legalize all drugs and quit making gangsters rich.
Top
Posted by mule train (+1055) 10 years ago
Amen Stone.
Top
Posted by Leif Ronning (+64) 10 years ago
amen also to the legalizing and taxing it idea. Every time I drink a beer and everytime one of my friends and relatives light up a tobacco product we pay our share of sin taxes. I see no reason to continue letting the pot smokers off the hook. At a time when all government budgets are having difficulty providing services we are allowing billions of dollars to flow out of the country and support gansters both here and in Mexico and other countries. Not to mention all the death and mayhem we are causing in Mexico with are unrealistic and outdated drug laws. Just as mandatory minumun drug laws almost broke every corrections budget in the country (thanks, Ronald Regan) we continue to do the same thing with are pot laws. Just my opinon, Leif
Top
founder
supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+11757) 10 years ago
Many years ago, my father, who was a physician, made the argument that the "War on Drugs" was just a way for contractors who built prisons to make money and did nothing for the actual problem. Addicts need help, not prison, and drug lords need to have the rug whipped out from underneath them.

Prohibition gave us the Mafia. The "War on Drugs" gave us Mexican and Columbian drug cartels. Legalize. Treat. Tax.

That is the only sane way to deal with 'the drug problem' so there is NO chance of it happening.
Top
supporter
sponsor
Posted by atomicg (+1010) 10 years ago
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLsCC0LZxkY

Milton Friedman's take on the topic.
Top
supporter
Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14950) 10 years ago


[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (12/31/2010)]
Top
supporter
sponsor
Posted by atomicg (+1010) 10 years ago
Thanks Richard!
Top
supporter
Posted by Kelly (+2706) 10 years ago
The Public Safety Committee will be talking about a possible ordinance tonight (2-1-2011) at 6PM in City Hall.

[This message has been edited by Kelly (2/1/2011)]
Top
supporter
sponsor
Posted by Matt Smith (+794) 10 years ago
We used to call them drug dealers...

Now they are called caregivers...

What is the point now of keeping people in prison for selling marijuana?
Top
Posted by Steve Allison (+981) 10 years ago
I am not enough of a doctor or scientist to argue the merits of marijuana for medical use. My complaint is, way make a goofy sideways system of dealing with it? One that lets it be abused for illegal use. If it has legitimate uses, then handle it as a drug. It has to be prescribed by a visit in person to a licensed doctor. Then the prescription is handled by a licensed pharmacist. It is a system set up to handle much more dangerous drugs with greater side effects then marijuana and for the most part it works well. Way not use it for marijuana instead of creating a sideways system that has great big holes for all kinds of abuse.
Top
Posted by ppl1 (+12) 10 years ago
Agreed, these "dispensaries" are out of control popping up everywhere. It greatly concerns me that people open them up in residential neighboorhoods and have young children living in them. I am sure that if other children/classmates come to play that their parents are not made aware of what is going on. Regulation/laws need to get in front of this so that communities can have guidelines to protect their neighborhoods. Let these people know they are not wanted in your neighborhood! Addresses of growers and dealers should be made public so that everyone is aware living around them...

[deleted]
Top
Posted by Joe Smity (+114) 10 years ago
"My complaint is, way make a goofy sideways system of dealing with it? One that lets it be abused for illegal use. If it has legitimate uses, then handle it as a drug. It has to be prescribed by a visit in person to a licensed doctor. Then the prescription is handled by a licensed pharmacist."

This was brought to bear through the Initiative process (Initiative 148), not through the legislative process. Little legal guidance was written into the initiative, hence the amount of confusion. As things stand now Steve, the only people you can really point fingers at and say "you did this wrong" are your fellow Montanan's.

The concerns that you express are the some of the concerns that the state legislature is attempting to address, but the overwhelming voice from the citizens in this state is that they a) want medical marijuana decriminalized and b) want readily available access to it for pain/illness management.

Read the FAQ from DPHHS
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/m...ions.shtml

Being that there is so little legal guidance to work with at the state level, if the City Council (and eventually the County Commission) aren't VERY careful in how they attempt to craft their ordinances, this will open up a Pandora's box of legal issues.

Bear in mind, as things stand today, city ordinance has to written according state law. Miles City, being an incorporated city and not a charter city, can only write ordinances that compile with state law; they can not "write their own" law concerning this. Personal opinions and agendas will not stand the test of legal challenge. The question of State's rights -vs- federal regulation enters into this discussion as well, especially since one of the City Council members has already voiced his position that he will render his decision based upon federal regulations (thereby violating his oath as City Councilman to uphold the laws of the State of Montana). The council has to act based upon the laws in effect at the time they take action not based upon the potential changes that might come into effect in the future.

This is not an easy issue to be dealt with.

[This message has been edited by Joe Smity (2/1/2011)]
Top
Posted by Steve Allison (+981) 10 years ago
Yes, I agree that this is a prime example of the citizen initiative process gone bad. A few trying to back door legalize marijuana created bad laws for the rest of us. I also feel it is the responsibility of the legislature to fix the situation. They can adjust the system of who and how it gets prescribed and sold. Some times we need to be saved from ourselves.
Top