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Medical marijuana meeting set for April in Caro

Caro City Council plans to hold a special meeting to discuss medical marijuana-related businesses and any potential role they might have in Tuscola County’s seat.
The meeting is set for 7 p.m., April 10 and will be held in the fire hall portion of the Caro Municipal Building in anticipation of a large group of attendees who the council said will likely want to participate.
Tentative plans call for a brief presentation on medical marijuana law by City Manager Ryan Piche and city attorney Gary Crews, along with plenty of opportunity for members of the public to have their say.
“We will give a brief presentation at the onset…basically, the options and ways in which we could proceed,” Piche said, noting that there are options to put an ordinance in place that would have some limitations.
“We’ll just put the facts out there, hear from the community, and give you guys a chance to…get a feel for if we want to go forward here,” Piche said to council members Monday.
Caro Mayor Joe Greene said he also wants the discussion to include figures about potential jobs that could be created.
Medical marijuana has been occasionally coming up at Caro City Council meetings for several months.
Greene already has given Caro City Council members copies of media reports — along with the bills signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder last September — about the laws that go into effect this December and essentially legalize and regulate medical marijuana edibles, dispensaries, and other related businesses.
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.
The new laws effectively create the framework for a medical marijuana industry by regulating the growth, processing, transport, sales and taxation of the drug.
In a recent report — often cited by local officials in public meetings — the Michigan Townships Association reported 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.
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.
Though such businesses will be allowed in December, local municipalities must have ordinances in place before businesses can establish themselves.
Some communities, such as the villages of Reese and Mayville have decided to not take any action at this time, effectively preventing the businesses from moving in.
Others want to be clearer on where they stand.
As The Advertiser reported March 4, Tuscola County’s Fremont Township plans to create a “statement” ordinance that specifically prohibits the businesses. Supervisor Henry Wymore said during a township board meeting in February that “the majority of people in our township don’t want it.”
However, the number of medical marijuana cards in Tuscola County increased from 682 in October 2015 to 1,335 as of Nov. 15, 2016, according to the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department.
Tuscola County’s two cities — Caro and Vassar (see story, A1) — are moving forward with serious consideration of adopting respective medical marijuana ordinances for what appears to be a growing market.
Not coincidentally, both are also looking to stimulate their economies through job creation.
As Greene pointed out Monday, Caro lost three businesses last year and gained one (Frankenmuth Credit Union).
As The Advertiser reported March 4, the possibility exists that the state-run psychiatric hospital Caro Center in Caro’s neighboring Indianfields Township will be replaced with a more modern facility outside of the region. That would mean an instant loss of 360 jobs to the area.
Greene said the days are gone of large businesses moving into areas like Caro, and bringing 30-50 jobs.
“You’re going to increase your jobs by 2, 3, 4, or 5 jobs at a time,” he said. “Having these big plants come in…that’s a thing of the past.”
One audience member spoke up about the possibility of medical marijuana businesses coming to Caro.
“They are good people in the community, that want to bring good jobs — respectful jobs — and I’m for the medical marijuana to be granted in our city,” said David Groosbeck, who last year bought and reopened Woody’zzz Motel, 2010 W. Caro Road (M-81).
“I think I’m a very decent citizen and I support it, and I hope you guys make the right decision,” he said.
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at andrew@tcadvertiser.com

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