Saugatuck Says No To Allowing Medical Marijuana Facilities In The City
After further review and more public input—with residents both in support of and against the city’s proposed move—Saugatuck city officials made it official Monday night: the city has opted-out of allowing medical marijuana facilities in its boundaries.
Through Public Act No. 281, passed in 2016, the State of Michigan can issue licenses for five different type of facilities: grower, processor, secure transporter, provisioning center, and safety compliance facility. However, a provision in the law also provides that such facilities cannot operate unless the local municipality adopts an ordinance that authorizes them to do so.
“It’s all going to be legal sooner or later. Either we take a leadership role in this or we become a dinosaur among the lakeshore harbor communities,” Saugatuck Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Spangler told his colleagues. His was the dissenting voice in Monday night’s vote, calling on his colleagues to allow for further public input. To support his point, Spangler presented—and read aloud from some—letters from the general public asking the city to opt-in.
“We just don’t have a place to put them. I don’t think it’s a hardship (for prospective patients and business owners),” said Saugatuck City Council Member Barry Johnson.
He and other council members further pointed out that local patients will have access to medical marijuana products now that the City of Douglas passed an ordinance to opt-in.
Douglas’ new regulation allows for two secure transporters and two provisions in designated districts, namely C-2 (general commercial) and L-1 (light industrial) districts.
They want to avoid any legal issues, citing that if the initiative passes by the Michigan electorate, it may impact current law and any local regulation.
At the local municipal level, the option of doing nothing works the same as opting-out, with the difference being that an actual ordinance establishes that indeed operations are officially not authorized, according to what Saugatuck City Zoning Administrator Cindy Osman told the council.
Local resident Jennifer Mendes, a teacher who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair to move about, was present Monday to call on the Saugatuck leadership to draft an ordinance to allow medical marijuana operations in town “even when it’s an exceptionally hard task to do.”
But others like downtown business owner Catherine Simon noted, “It’s not complimentary with the downtown district.”
Also present was Mark Smith, who eight months ago opened The Green Door medical marijuana dispensary in Bangor, MI after that city passed a regulation allowing such operations.
Smith told Saugatuck council he was there to support opting-in and to see if the council had any questions about the dispensary industry.