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Reese Village Council latest to begin medical marijuana discussion

medical marijuana imageReese became the latest Tuscola County municipality to begin discussions about a possible medical marijuana ordinance that would clear the way for dispensaries to set up shop in the village.

On Monday, Reese Village Council discussed the topic of medical marijuana provisioning centers in Reese in light of changes to state law that allows medical marijuana businesses to open under certain circumstances — specifically, if a local ordinance allows such businesses.

Several officials offered their thoughts on the matter.

“They’re legit businesses,” said Reese Village Council President Paul Keast. “And the other thing is if you allow them, you have to declare that you’re hosting a provision center and these are the rules you would have in your zoning ordinance just like adult entertainment places, bookstores, etc. — we have an ordinance for this, too.”

Village Manager David Tatrow said there is already a moratorium in place on the current village zoning ordinance that says unless a use is otherwise stated, the centers are prohibited.

In November, The Advertiser reported the number of marijuana cards in the county has doubled in one year. The article also reported Vassar City Council discussed the matter with the potential for a positive economic impact toward the city.

“The crux of the article was the communities that aren’t going to allow it are going to play catch up down the road,” said Tim Elbers, Reese president pro tem.

From a legal perspective, more than 60 percent of Michigan voters approved the Michigan Marihuana Act on Nov. 4, 2008.

Per that act, those with medical marijuana cards can have only 2.5 ounces of marijuana in their possession that is either grown by them or provided by a so-called “caregiver.” The state provides comprehensive background on the most up-to-date rules and regulations at http://1.usa.gov/1NUfAsA.

However, at the time, the state law did not account for distribution and dispensaries — or local economic impact.

That changed in September, when Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a series of bills that go into effect in late 2017 and essentially legalize and regulate medical marijuana edibles and dispensaries.

Specifically, the bills were:

  • House Bill 4209, now Public Act 281, establishing the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act to license and regulate growth, processing, transport and provisioning of medical marijuana.
  • House Bill 4210, now Public Act 282, amends the voter-initiated Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008 to allow for the manufacture and use (by qualified patients) of marijuana-infused products.
  • House Bill 4827, now Public Act 283, creates the Marihuana Tracking Act that includes a seed-to-sale tracking system to track all medical marijuana.

In short, the new law effectively creates the framework for a medical marijuana industry by regulating the growth, processing, transport, sales and taxation of the drug.

Individual communities can assess annual license fees of up to $5,000 per facility, and also receive a share of the new 3 percent state sales tax imposed on the entities’ gross retail receipts.

According to a Michigan Townships Association report on the new law, the five entities allowed under the new law may be “quite profitable.” The five entities are: growers, processors, provisioning centers, secured transporters and safety compliance.

Reese village Trustee Pete Bouvy and Tatrow attended the Monday, Dec. 5 Reese Village Planning Commission meeting with more insight on what to do in 2017.

Bouvy asked if the village should reject medicinal marijuana or make provisions to have it. Bouvy told council Saginaw Township has completely rejected the idea of having it available in the township.

“As I felt before we could do anything, in terms of either developing an ordinance or amending an ordinance we need to know which direction to go … and maybe at the January meeting whether this is something you feel positive or you don’t want,” echoed Tatrow of Bouvy’s comment about the neighboring township.

Village attorney David Meyer is expected to provide officials with an opinion.

Keast encouraged council members to contact constituents and research the matter themselves before making a decision.

The matter was tabled and the council took no further action on it.

Also at Monday evening’s meeting, council members learned Tatrow examined the village’s joint agreement for growth management and utility extension, after last month’s meeting when local resident Nick Costello came requesting access to village water.

Tatrow created a draft with new wording to complement those who are not annexed into the agreement.

The draft proposes, “if your property is in this growth management boundary not contiguous with village property, you don’t have to annex.”

Tatrow said the new wording would only change descriptions of boundaries in the area and not the limits themselves. He said he will not have a final draft of the new wording by January because of a limited number of workdays between Monday and next month.

“It’s fair to the people who have been forced in and it makes sense not to have any more of those little islands out there,” said Tatrow. “And allows those people who need water to get it. It’s a way to get Mr. Costello and other people who need water and don’t want to annex in.”

Council also:

  • Listened to local resident Mary Pierce who approached council with the desire to have a dog run built in her late daughter’s name, Leslie Pierce Kern.
  • Learned the house located at 9916 Center St. will go through another public hearing after it was considered to be a dangerous property.
  • Heard that 100 percent of the bankruptcy payments for The Meadows Mobile Home Park is due to the village and will go on the taxes in May. The village will examine what is 120 days delinquent in sewer payments as of May.
  • Approved the appointment of Tim Elbers as President Pro-Tem and Chris Ranney as Treasurer-Clerk.
  • Tabled a proposed rental property inspection ordinance for January.

Debanina Seaton is a reporter for the Advertiser and can be reached at debanina@tcadvertiser.com

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