Regulations for medical marijuana ordinance draft discussed at City Commission meeting


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Mount Pleasant Mayor Allison Quast-Lents listens to commission members on Feb. 12 at Mount Pleasant City Hall.  

Mount Pleasant City Commission redefined buffer zones and the number of facilities allowed for the medical marijuana facilities ordinance draft in a Feb. 12 work session.

Before the commission began the work session after their formal meeting, City Manager Nancy Ridley addressed the ordinance. She said what the commissioners had in front of them was the first rough draft, which reflected what the commissioners had previously discussed.

The draft is an attempt to provide medicine to those who need it, while keeping in mind the potential unintended consequences of a federally illegal substance, and the impact it could have on the community, Ridley said. 

“We specifically did not want to be the first community that enacted an ordinance,” Ridley said in regard to being cautious about something that was illegal on a federal level. 

The commission, with assistance from Ridley, City Attorney Scott Smith, City Planner Jacob Kain and Department of Public Safety Director Paul Lauria, discussed as much of the ordinance draft as they could, requesting more time twice. 

The draft has yet to be finalized, and there will be another work session on March 12. The projected timeline for the process puts the effective date of the ordinance as June 28, and the first date to accept applications is June 29. 

Buffering

The largest debate during the meeting was the question of buffer zones throughout the city that would limit the distance of medical marijuana facilities from designated areas. 

At the beginning of the discussion, K-12 schools, Central Michigan University, parks, daycares, playgrounds, rehabilitation centers, youth centers, religious facilities and other medical marijuana facilities were all in question for a 500-foot or 1,000-foot buffer zone. 

The commission ultimately decided on a 1,000-foot buffer on all K-12 schools to respect the drug-free policy schools have, and a 500-foot buffer for Central Michigan University. There were no buffers decided on anything else. 

“I don't feel comfortable ignoring the recommendation from the two school systems," Commissioner Kathy Ling said. "Because of their concern for the children and because of the concern about the drug-free policy. I'm comfortable with staying at 1,000 feet."

With the exception of Commissioner Tony Kulick, the commissioners decided to allow provisioning centers, along with the other facilities, to be located inside of the industrial park, which is located north of Illinois Street and south of East Pickard Street. 

Application 

The application process for these facilities will be in the form of a lottery system. Potential business owners will have to apply to the State of Michigan, with the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, who will screen applicants and perform background checks. 

The City of Mount Pleasant will then take applications, primarily looking at the proposed locations. If they receive more than three applications on the same day, just three will be drawn from a lottery. 

The applicant then has to apply again to LARA with the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, which will give them the proper business license.

The fees involved in the draft include a $5,000 annual fee in addition to an application fee, however the Commission didn't finalize this detail yet. 

The Medical Marijuana Facilities ordinance will also allow all five types of facilities in Mount Pleasant — provisioning centers (dispensaries/stores), growers, processors, secure transports and safety compliance facilities (product testing facilities). 

The commission ultimately decided to allow three facilities of each type. Some commissioners, such as Kristin LaLonde, Will Joseph and Lori Gillis, were OK with the idea of having more than three growing facilities. Kulick was more comfortable with the idea of no more than two provisioning centers, but more than three safety compliance facilities. 

"Once it's there, it's going to be there forever," Kulick said. "Which is why (with) provisioning centers, I feel uncomfortable going more than two. The safety compliance facilities, I look at those as testing labs, and I'd be willing to go way more than three. It's not a problem for me."

To remedy this problem of varying numbers, the commission decided to add a policy review that would bring the ordinance back to their attention within a year of it taking effect. This will allow them to adjust numbers accordingly, once they see them operating within the city. 

"I think (growers) pose the least security risk, and with the three varying sizes we're not really sure how big a facility might be," Joseph said. "If they're in our industrial area, I feel like it's an area where we could have more without really any adverse effects."

The ordinance will also allow all three sizes of grow facilities — classes A, B and C. Class A is up to 500 plants, class B is up to 1,000 and class C is up to 1,500 plants. In addition, class C growers may “stack” licenses, by applying for multiple licenses, with the state. 

The draft also includes a number of regulations, some of which are the same as the state regulations. 

The city will be imposing more regulations in addition to the state regulations on odor control. For example, the filtration system must be replaced once every year, and all windows and doors must be closed at all times, with the exception of people walking in and out of the building. 

Other regulations added by the city include no on-site consumption of marijuana, hours of operation set for provisioning centers as 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., deliveries to provisioning centers restricted between 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. and all waste containers being stored inside the facilities. 

“The times were selected in part because they are in line with government retail hours for most establishments,” Kain said in response to LaLonde's concerns about the hours being selected arbitrarily. "They were also selected because they are the most commonly utilized."

Security cameras, security lighting, security alarms and security of cash are all in accordance with state regulations. Other addressed concerns, such as backflow prevention for water service lines and zoning issues were addressed in other ordinances. 

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