Residents state support for medical marijuana facilities at City Commission meeting
While Mount Pleasant has not yet decided on allowing medical marijuana facilities, some residents have stated that those operations are welcome into town.
The Mount Pleasant City Commission met on Monday, Aug. 14, in a work session to discuss a recommendation from the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMMFLA) ad hoc committee.
Before that, many residents attended the commission meeting to signal their support should the city vote in favor of adding medical marijuana operations. Nine people took the podium during the first public comment — all of them saying they were in favor of bringing medical marijuana facilities into Mount Pleasant.
Brandon McQueen, a 31-year-old Mount Pleasant resident, was the first to express his support. He said he is excited Mount Pleasant officials are looking into the topic and said patients would have “consistent access to high quality medication.”
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” McQueen said. “It’s good for all parties included. I’m proud of the commissioners for stepping up and doing what is righteous, even though it is a controversial subject.”
McQueen added facilities would bring along an economic benefit. He said it's "frustrating" that some people are opposed to the idea.
“There’s some people who just can’t get over it,” he said.
Toward the end of its regular meeting, the City Commission discussed the recommendation by the MMMFLA ad-hoc committee. City Manager Nancy Ridley said two ordinances would likely need to be passed: a zoning ordinance and a regular ordinance.
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is likely to issue preliminary regulations for facilities by October, Ridley said. She added the city could either wait to draft ordinances until October or start drafting through October and then make amendments.
As part of the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, the state will start licensing in December. Ridley said there will be opportunities to opt into facilities into next year. She added six Michigan municipalities have drafted ordinances approving medical marijuana facilities, while 12 have passed resolutions declining them.
Ridley said Mount Pleasant is one of many municipalities that is still deciding on what route to go.
Paul Lauria, Mount Pleasant director of public safety and police chief, said medical marijuana facilities would be regulated the same way as a bar or nightclub.
Lauria said Mount Pleasant is unique because it is on reservation land and is the location of a public university. CMU could either move forward with the process and be an example or wait on it and become a model for other municipalities, he said.
City Planner Jacob Kain presented where the facilities could possibly be set up. According to the recommendation, provisioning centers would be allowed in commercial and industrial zoning districts subject to special use permit. Processors, safety compliance facilities, secure transporters and growers would be located in industrial zoning districts subject to special use permit.
The City Commission will continue to discuss the issue going forward. Mayor Kathleen Ling said at the end of the meeting that she appreciated the ad-hoc committee’s work.
“A lot of time and effort has gone into it,” Ling said.
Angel Foster participated in public comment. A Central Michigan University alumna, Foster works as a therapist at a substance abuse and mental health treatment center in Saginaw. She is also a part of the ad-hoc committee and was appointed by Ling to represent residents.
Foster said she is happy Mount Pleasant is looking into medical marijuana operations, calling it “progressive.” She said it has been “life-changing” for some of her patients.
“I think this medicine increases the quality of life for so many and it replaces highly addictive medication,” Foster said.
Here are some other notes from the City Commission meeting:
- The City Commission voted to amend its budget to put $340,000 into restoring Mount Pleasant parks and ball diamonds at Pickens Field and Island Park after June flooding.
- Former City Commissioner Rick Rautanen announced his candidacy for a City Commission seat. Rautanen made the announcement during the second public comment and told the commissioners that he looked forward to joining them in January. Rautanen did not reply to Central Michigan Life’s request for comment.
- The commission renewed its five-year agreement with Central Michigan University for copier leases. The city will pay for $882 per month for four copiers – totaling $10,584 per year.