City commission votes to allow medical marijuana facilities


Medical marijuana facilities will be able to operate in the city of Mount Pleasant. 

City commissioners debated the approval of an ordinance to add a new chapter 112, titled “Medical Marihuana Facilities” to Title XI of the Mount Pleasant City Code. 

The ordinance allows certain facilities operated in accordance with state law. The motion passed 6-1 during the June 11 meeting.

Mayor Allison Quast Lents thanked everyone for the extensive time, effort and thought they had put into discussion of the ordinance.

"This was a very big decision and a very big process and I want to thank everyone for being involved."

Commissioner Tony Kulik voted against the ordinance. Kulik said he believed the decision is premature — Michigan voters will weigh in on legalizing recreational marijuana in November. Kulik stated he was concerned that a whole new set of laws and regulations could interfere with the city's ordinance. 

The new ordinance allows those individuals or corporate entities who are interested in operating medical marijuana facilities to begin the application process on Oct. 1.

All types of facilities will be allowed within the city's industrial zone. Provisioning centers will be allowed in commercial zones within designated areas. 

A facility will not be permitted to operate within the 1000-feet buffer zone around all K-12 public or private schools. There is also a 500 feet buffer zone around Central Michigan University, unless the facility is located east of Mission St.

Commissioner Lori Gillis proposed an amendment that allows provisioning centers to operate north of Broadway Street, within the 1,000 feet buffer zone of Sacred Heart Academy. 

"We had multiple speakers at the public hearing who asked for more areas downtown to have provisioning centers," Gillis said, adding that provisioning centers would "increase the foot traffic downtown."

The original amendment was suggested by the planning commission to allow provisioning centers to operate in the downtown area. The amendment failed, 6-1.

Under the ordinance, no more than five growing facilities operating under Class A licenses and no more than three growing facilities operating under Class B or Class C licenses would be allowed to operate within the city.

As far as provisioning centers, which includes any commercial property where marijuana is sold at retail to registered qualifying patients or primary caregivers-- no more than three will be allowed to operate.

If the number of applications received is higher than the number allowed of that certain type of facility, a public meeting will take place to randomly select the applicants in a lottery system.

Commissioner Gills said she was concerned that the lottery system would allow for applicants to find loopholes that would allow them to own portions of and operate many of the facilities in the city. She proposed an amendment she hoped would prevent this, but it failed as well.

Cathleen Ling said she doesn't think the city will be able to prevent that situation, if applicants to attempt to find those loopholes.

"I think we have a responsible compromise that represents the commission and the opinion of the community. I'm convinced that we have at this point is a good trial document, and we have a year to see how that's going to go."

At the end of 2019, will reflect on the entire process and any medical marijuana facilities that will be in Mount Pleasant by that time, and any issues that may have arisen. This one-year trial period allows for the city to learn from the process and, after one year, revise anything that may need to be revised.