OWOSSO CITY MANAGER NATHAN HENNE (far right) offered council a presentation on recreational marijuana facility licensing to help formulate conversation on the issue.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
During the regular Owosso City Council meeting on Monday, Sept. 16, City Manager Nathan Henne offered a presentation, leading to a discussion, on recreational marijuana facility licensing. With medical marijuana licensing already established, 58 percent of Owosso voters approved passing recreational marijuana in November 2018, leading to the city moratorium passed last winter to allow LARA to formulate licensing rules at the state level. The city moratorium expires on Tuesday, Dec. 17, so council needed to have an understanding of the LARA rules before either pushing the moratorium deadline back or deciding on the details allowing recreational marijuana businesses in the city. Henne offered council insight on the licensing regulations to open the discussion. Municipalities must make a decision or state law will automatically do so, minus caps or possibly important zoning guidelines.
Council opted to have Henne move toward offering dates for a public forum on the issue. LARA released the emergency rules for recreational marijuana facility licensing in July. Henne stated that he believes that other cities and townships are “waiting for what the Owossos of the world will do.”
The LARA rules create 10 licenses for “Grower, Processor, Transporter, Provisioning Center, Safety Comp” with a new addition for event organizers and/or mircrobusinesses. In short, microbusinesses would allow for up to 150 plants with retail sales of marijuana to people and not just to businesses. Marijuana event organizers would be allowed temporary sale and/or product consumption at special events. More details on LARA licensing is available at www.michigan.gov.
Mayor Chris Eveleth proposed allowing planning commission to look at the issue. Henne shared he thinks most of the decisions will fall to council. Council member Janae Fear, who serves on the planning commission and has previous involvement outlining the medical marijuana language, said she believes it would take considerable time to formulate sensible decisions – pushing the moratorium back.
Henne will likely offer council dates for a public forum at the October meeting.
There are currently no operational medical marijuana provisioning centers in Owosso, though four are allowed. Regarding recreational marijuana, the council decided in May to amend the city ordinance related to the consumption of marijuana in public places – or public use of recreational marijuana – to “reflect changes in state law.” The amended ordinance is available via the city clerk’s office at Owosso City Hall.
Other items addressed in the meeting, all of them approved, included miscellaneous water policy and service charge changes. Council member Lori Bailey wanted to be certain it was clear the changes will not affect homeowners. Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) policy requirements, as required by state law, were accepted in order for the city to remain eligible for further grant funding. The Downtown Revolving Loan Program Manual now will include changes for capital costs for small businesses “as an eligible project type. Also, the “5th-Monday Meeting,” scheduled for Monday, Sept. 30, will focus on solid waste removal and possible curbside recycling – topics suggested in a special goal-setting meeting in February.