MI: Medical Marijuana Laws Prompt Kalamazoo Ordinance Changes

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Ron Strider

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Three proposed ordinance changes would address new medical marijuana laws signed late last year.

The Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in September 2016, gives Michigan cities the option to allow five types of medical marijuana facilities to be established in their jurisdictions. The city of Kalamazoo will hold two public forums next week to gather citizen input on updates to the zoning code and code of ordinances that would conform with the legislative changes.

The first is a proposed amendment to the zoning code permitting a registered caregiver to operate as a home occupation. Another zoning code amendment would define zoning districts where proposed commercial medical marijuana facilities can be located.

Local municipalities have the option to allow five types of medical marijuana facilities to operate, or not. The five types of licenses include:

-Growers (who cultivate the product)

-Processors (who refine the product into concentrates and edibles)

-Safety compliance facilities (which test the product for potency and contamination)

-Secure transporters (who transport the product between facilities)

-Provisioning Centers (also known as dispensaries)

City Attorney Clyde Robinson said facilities would likely be placed in industrial and manufacturing zones, of which Kalamazoo has plenty on the east side of downtown.

Kalamazoo is also considering a change to its code of ordinances to set licensing and operational standards for commercial medical marijuana facilities operating in the city.

The forums will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on July 26, and 2 to 4:30 p.m. July 27 in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall, 241 W. South St.

City administrators will be present to provide an overview of the ordinances, take comments and answer questions from the public. Draft versions of the three ordinances will be available at the forums and through the city's website once they are finalized.

According to a release from the city, any changes to the proposed ordinances will be presented to the Planning Commission and subsequently to the City Commission for consideration and possible adoption in September or October.

In a June 26 work session, Robinson said there are 4,081 medical marijuana patients and 521 caregivers registered with state of Michigan in Kalamazoo County.

If Kalamazoo decides to allow medical marijuana facilities, it would receive a portion of the profits. Three percent of retail sales will be taxed and distributed proportionally to local units of government based on their number of facilities.

The 3 percent tax also supports law enforcement departments at the state and local level.

Robinson said the goal is to have all necessary ordinance changes adopted before Dec. 15 of this year, the date applications for one of five licenses can be filed.

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