New marijuana business regs send Allegan city back to drawing board

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

Allegan City’s Planning Commission is headed back to the drawing board after the state announced new regulation over marijuana on July 3 that add four new types of licenses to consider.

Allegan’s City Council and Planning Commission gathered for a joint meeting Monday, July 8, to hear a presentation and discuss the planning commission’s proposed ordinance to zone and regulate marijuana businesses in the city.

The state upped the ante to 11 types of businesses after the planning commission finalized ordinances for seven of them.

A public hearing scheduled for the planning commission’s July 15 meeting will continue; however, city attorney Nick Curcio said the commission does not have to act on a recommendation to the council at that time.

City council members passed an ordinance last December banning marijuana businesses but directed the planning commission to study the marijuana businesses and come back to the City Council with a recommendation on how to regulate them should the council choose to opt-in. The deadline for that recommendation wasn’t until this December after the state application process begins.

After six month of studies, the planning commission drafted an ordinance to regulate marijuana businesses in accordance with state law and the city’s zoning ordinance. Those studies along with the draft ordinance can be found on the city’s website homepage.

The four new business types to consider include: 

• A Marijuana Event Organizer, which allows the license holder to apply for Temporary Marijuana Event Licenses.

• A Temporary Marijuana Event which allows a marijuana event organizer to run an event where the onsite sale or consumption of marijuana products, or both, are authorized at a specific location for a limited time.

• A Designated Consumption Establishment, which allows the license holder to operate a commercial space where adults 21 years of age and older to consume marijuana.

• Excess Marijuana Grower, which allows a licensee who already holds five adult-use Class C Grower licenses to expand their allowable marijuana plant count (in excess of 10,000 plants)

Mayor Rachel McKenzie, who also serves on the planning commission, said with these new license types released last week, she felt comfortable going back and adding them to the draft ordinance.

Commission chairman Brad Burke agreed they needed to be studied more.

“I’m concerned about that last one (Excess Marijuana Grower),” Burke said.  “That would be a huge factory operation with 500 to 700 employees.”

Commission member Jason Watts said the law basically has the ability to regulate like alcohol but said the city doesn’t have enough industrial space for an excess marijuana grower.

Commission member Tom Morgan said the new license types have contradictory points.

“We were under the assumption it would be consumed in private but now they’re saying it can be public,” Morgan said.

Several public comments were heard, many saying legalizing sales in the city was not beneficial to the public’s quality of life. Others said marijuana was beneficial to them.

The new rules also have no minimum capital requirements and eliminates the 3-percent excise tax on medical marijuana users. A 10-percent excise tax would still be levied on marijuana sales at retailers and microbusinesses. 

Although no action is expected, the public hearing for the original draft ordinance is at 6 p.m. Monday, July 15, at Griswold Auditorium’s Marilla Room.

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at vransbottom@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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