For now, at least.
In case you’re not familiar, Judy Pontius is the grandmother in Ypsilanti Township who’s been facing possible jail time for growing what the township deems as too many plants. We wrote about her predicament a few weeks ago.
As of a hearing this past Wednesday, Pontius is permitted to keep her plants until she’s required to appear at an evidentiary trial.
The Trouble With Ypsilanti Township
The fact is, Michigan Medical Marijuana laws permit caregivers to grow up to 72 plants. And with over 60 but fewer than 70 plants, Judy Pontius is undisputedly within the legal limits.
However, Ypsilanti Township was the first municipality in the entire state to force its caregivers to grow only in an Industrial Zone. As such, no grow operations are permitted in homes with more than 12 plants.
Frustrated by the unfairness of the situation, 20 people gathered in front of the Washtenaw County Courthouse to show support for Pontius and her refusal to comply with the township’s ordinance. Pontius and her attorney, Barton Morris Jr., made an appearance at the demonstration before leaving for the hearing which they attended via Zoom from a nearby dispensary.
How It Has Played Out So Far
The dispute between Pontius and the township is nothing new. It dates back to 2016. Back then, Circuit Judge Carol Kuhnke initially ruled in Pontius’ favor. So too did the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Ypsilanti Township, however, took it to the state Supreme Court in April of 2020 – saying that municipalities are permitted to determine where cannabis grow operations are located. From there, they created an ordinance stating that grow operations larger than 12 plants have to be located in a light industrial zone. At that point, Judge Kuhnke had to issue an order demanding that Pontius remove about 62 plants from the home by June 21. Pontius refused to comply.
Pontius Is Permitted to Keep Her Plants Until Trial
Pontius isn’t looking for exclusive treatment. She just wanted to continue growing her plants until her patients were able to find a new source for their medicine.
Even so, at Wednesday’s hearing, Dennis McLain, representing Ypsilanti Township, asked that Pontius be held in contempt of court. She is expected to remove all but 12 of her plants.
Morris told Kuhnke during the hearing that was scheduled because of her defiance that his client has a right to own 55 marijuana plants since she is no longer a caregiver. Instead, they are her personal plants.
Meanwhile, township counsel introduced an affidavit from neighbors complaining about the odor. They also claimed, fallaciously, that Pontius no longer lives in the place where she’s growing – assertions that Morris rebuffed.
He says that municipalities like Ypsilanti Township are objecting to grow operations in residential areas because more than twelve plants is a nuisance to the neighbors.
“We have to get the state legislators to step up and do something about this because (caregivers) are under attack,” he said. As such, Morris has also urged the Michigan legislature to get involved and amend the law to help settle this issue.
So What’s Next?
Obviously, we’re cannabis marketing experts, not soothsayers. We certainly hope that Pontius is permitted to keep her plants though.
It all depends on what happens with Pontius and Morris at the evidentiary trial, so keep your fingers crossed and remember to check back with us for the latest!