Originally posted on the Herald Times by Jackie Smith on March 29th.
Officials in Brown City have a proposed medical marijuana dispensary on hold while they wait for a clearer understanding of state rules.
Local residents and other advocates brought up the idea to City Council earlier this month with a spot in mind at 7051 Maple Valley Road.
But officials agreed Monday to table the discussion until they receive more information.
The Medical Marihuana Licensing Act was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder last October to regulate medical marijuana facilities, including dispensaries.
Brown City Manager Clint Holmes said the city attorney pointed out the panel that is supposed to oversee implementation of the new law hasn’t been appointed by the governor. Because of that, Holmes said, officials “did not think it was responsible to proceed with this issue.”
“They’re more than willing to take information from these people, but we’re just waiting on rules,” said lawyer Greg Stremers. “And I think that’s a wise choice.”
Bernard Jocuns is a Lapeer County lawyer who is representing resident Tom Owens who proposed the dispensary. Jocuns talked to the City Council at its March 13 meeting but wasn’t present Monday. He said his client was prepared to petition the matter for a public vote under the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act.
Jocuns described Owens as “a lifelong farmer, and he wants to help patients.”
Stremers said people involved seemed willing to wait.
“Under this act, the municipality has to pass an ordinance to allow it. That has to be done prior to Dec. 15, 2017,” he said. “If no ordinance (is passed) by that date, then the state will not consider a license for that dispensary.”
There was no timeline for re-examining the issue outside that deadline.
Jocuns said he wasn’t sure officials were willing to progress.
“We could carve things out. It would be nice if the city would’ve been more proactive. But now we’ll have to figure out what the people want,” Jocuns said. “… I would like to think that people are beyond the stereotypes of marijuana, and it’s no longer something we need research on.”
Holmes said officials are awaiting more than the governor-appointed implementing body. They want to know specifically how the statute would impact the city.
“For example, the law states if a community approves or opts in for a medical marijuana dispensary, they can collect a licensing fee up to 5,000 (dollars),” he said. “But the problem, is it a flat (fee), is it based on the (amount of) business provided to the city? Then there’s a factor if the city collects (and) under federal law, marijuana is (illegal), would the justice department (be involved)? We’d like to figure out what’s going on before we get involved.”
Another medical marijuana facility is proposed for Maple Valley Township. Supervisor Rick Mitchell said his board was approached March 21.
“We’re exploring that option with their lawyer. We just referred it to our planning commission, which doesn’t meet until May,” Mitchell said. “It was about a growing operation for the township. It was going to be tied into in the facility they were proposing in Brown City. (The) board took no action.”