MI: Deciding On Regulations For Medical Marijuana

Photo Credit: Jamie Lusch

With medical marijuana facilities popping up all across the state, local governments are making their own laws in order to regulate them.

“Ultimately, it was decided that these are not much different than having a pharmacy in the downtown,” said Traverse City Planning Director Russ Soyring.

The Planning Commission has come up with a proposal to allow marijuana provisioning centers downtown. Provisioning centers allow people to pick up medical marijuana, but no production of products takes place. The Planning Commission’s proposal has plenty of restrictions, and they plan to present it to the City Commission this month.

“It has to be at least 1,000 feet from a school and it has to be at least 1,000 feet from another provisioning center,” Soyring said, as he explained some of the rules.

With those distances, only about 13 centers could fit in the city, and only 3 in the downtown area. Other regulations such as tinted windows and only allowing upper level store fronts were discussed, but were ultimately left out.

“There was some concerns that if we require them to be on the second floor that people that had some disabilities they might have a difficult time getting up stairs,” Soyring said. “Some of these people have medical issues that make it difficult to move.”

No marijuana can be consumed inside a provisioning center, and only people with medical marijuana cards will be allowed to enter, which Soyring says created a concern from the D.D.A.

“We’re a very small downtown, and we want to have very active storefronts,” Soyring said. “So if you have a storefront where only people with medical marijuana cards can go into it, is that the kind of business you want?”

Also in this proposal, growing or processing operations will not be allowed in the downtown area. They will only be allowed in areas that are zoned industrial.

While the commission has been focusing on medical marijuana, Soyring says a possible vote in November for recreational marijuana could bring up another issue in the future.

As for now, the Planning Commission has a public hearing on this issue June 5. It would then be recommended to the City Commission, who could have an ordinance in place as early as July.