COUNCIL MEMBER Burton Fox can be seen during the Monday, July 2 Owosso City Council meeting expressing his concerns with allowing medical marihuana facilities in the city of Owosso. Though Fox emphasized that he appreciates all the hard work the city’s planning commission put into researching and drafting the ordinance, he suggested tabling the decision to request further clarification that loopholes have been tightened in the state’s most recent medical marihuana legislation. Fox was joined by council member Lori Bailey in voting “No” on the new ordinance.
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Owosso City Council voted on Monday, July 2 to amend the City of Owosso Code of Ordinances to add Chapter 16.5, “Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing,” and amend various sections of Chapter 38, “Zoning,” to authorize and regulate medical marihuana related facilities within the city. The Owosso Planning Commission drafted and recommended the ordinance, which the council approved by a five-to-two margin, with minimal adjustments.
The ordinance will allow up to four provisioning center licenses and an unlimited amount of growing, processing, safety compliance and secure transport licenses. Pending state approval, the ordinance could take effect by Monday, July 23.
Growing, processing, safety compliance and secure transport facilities must be located within industrial zoning districts, I-1 and I-2. Provisioning facilities (dispensaries) can be located within business/commercial districts (B-1 through B-4) or industrial districts. As for buffer zones around schools and residences, provisioning centers must be located at least 100 feet away from the nearest residence and 200 feet away from the nearest school, from door to door.
Applications for each license will cost $5,000 annually. Since the city will allow only four provisioning licenses, there will be a lottery to select the four license recipients, should more than four individuals apply. Applicants who are not selected in the lottery, will be refunded half of their application fee, $2,500.
The planning commission began working to draft the new ordinance approximately one-and-a-half years ago, well before the State of Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) took effect in December of 2017. The city hosted two medical marihuana workshops – Sept. 28 and Oct. 21, 2017 – to discuss the matter with the public, before presenting the final draft in a public hearing on May 29, 2018.
The planning commission’s progress was slowed by widespread uncertainty about how the MMFLA would be structured and implemented. However, the planning commission used that time to watch and gather insight from the municipalities that had already “opted in” to the MMFLA. That data was then used by the planning commission to make any necessary adjustments to its final recommendation. Planning commission members noted during the July 2 meeting that the ordinance mirrors the state’s liquor control language as closely as possible.
Council member Burton Fox, who opposed the passage of the new ordinance, expressed that he is not satisfied that the MMFLA goes far enough in ensuring the reputability of the doctors issuing medical marihuana prescriptions. Fox also pointed out that there are three pharmacies in the city, and the new ordinance would allow for four provisioning centers, the medical marihuana equivalent to a pharmacy. His motion to table the agenda item until the July 30 meeting was denied by the council.
Applications will be accepted, pending state approval of the ordinance, by the Owosso city clerk, though applications will be processed – and either approved or denied – by the city’s building department, within 20 days.