Niles officials draft opt-in ordinance for medical marijuana

NOW: Niles officials draft opt-in ordinance for medical marijuana

NILES, Mich. --- City officials proposed a draft opt-in ordinance to the city council on October 9. 

The city administrator said the drafting process was not the easiest. 

"Monday night we were working on the draft up until the meeting so they [city council] hadn't seen it yet," said Richard Huff, Niles City Administrator. 

His office proposed two drafts at the last council meeting: a zoning ordinance and the medical marijuana opt-in ordinance.

"What is being proposed is that four of the types can only exist in an industrial zoned areas of the city," Huff said.

There are five types of licenses that can be used under the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act. Huff said that four of those licenses can only be used in industrial areas: grower, processor, secure transportation, and safety compliance facility. 

The provisioning center, commonly known as the dispensary, will be somewhere in Downtown Niles.

"We've been through many, many revisions," Huff said. "Every time we think we've got it close to being where it needs to be we learn something new about medical marijuana."

In order to create these drafts, Huff and his team reached out to other cities in Colorado and Kalamazoo in Michigan, that gave the Niles officials advice.

"Kalamazoo set up a system for the number of provisioning centers by population," he said. "When we looked at that and then looked at the population of our community it made a lot of sense."

In the zoning ordinance, his office is recommending the city allow two facilities. However, the owner of Natural Solutions in Niles said he is not sure that that's the best decision. 

He said both local and state licenses are expensive and for there only to be two facilities up for grabs is not fair.

But Matt Johnson, who has been keeping up with the journey to medical marijuana legalization, said that this is just a starting point. He said these facilities are a good thing for the city.

“There are other municipalities that aren’t going to have any, so I do think we’re going to be pulling traffic from neighboring cities,” said Johnson.  

He said over time people will see that the dispensaries are bringing in new business and are helping the community.

“The city could always revise the ordinance and add a third or a fourth,” he said.

Huff will hear feedback from the city council on Monday. He said he is hopeful that with their feedback they can have a concrete ordinance ready to send back.

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