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Jackson to limit space residents can use to grow medical marijuana

Stephen Carmody

In a controversial move, the Jackson City Council made a decision last night to restrict how people can grow medical marijuana in their homes.

It's called the 20 percent rule.

Under the new ordinance, caregivers will only be allowed to grow the drug on 20 percent of their property.

The decision not only sparked controversy, but confusion. Council member Derek Dobies explains the decision only applies to where marijuana can be grown in the home, but no restriction to how or where it can be consumed. Dobies voted against the measure. But he says he understands why the council moved forward with the decision.

"This (medical marijuana) is something new, and frankly people are scared of it," explained Dobies. "I've talked to some residents and they don't know how to feel about a caregiver moving in next door, or a patient using it next door."

The decision did not come without opposition. Dozens of people protested outside City Hall, including organizer  Joe Cain. He said even though he is upset about the decision, he is not surprised.

"So, what they've done is come back and gone behind the people," Cain explained, "They've decided to be very Orwellian and come into people's houses and say 'Well no, you can only use this part of the house,' and that's not what the people (who voted to legalize medical marijuana) intended."

"It's like making sausage. We have to continue to revise and amend until we get something that works." - Derek Dobies, Jackson City Council member.

Dobies says he expects conflicts like this one will continue to pop up in other communities, until more comprehensive medical marijuana guidelines put in place.

"There's going to some people who are frustrated with they city until we legalize it, criminalize it, or until we're all driving around in hemp cars," Dobies said.

The 20 percent ordinance is set to take effect September 12.

-Alana Holland, Michigan Radio Newsroom