KALAMAZOO, MI — The city of Kalamazoo will hold a public hearing on a proposed zoning ordinance to regulate marijuana businesses in the city.

The Kalamazoo City Commission accepted the proposed ordinance on first reading during a virtual city commission meeting on Monday, May 4, and set a public hearing on the proposed ordinance for Monday, May 18.

The proposed ordinance would set the zoning rules for eight different types of recreational marijuana business licenses in Kalamazoo. The first five recreational business licenses would be similar to those already permitted in the city’s medical marijuana ordinance, and the others are new license types that will be allowed under recreational rules:

  • Grower
  • Processor
  • Safety Compliance
  • Secure Transport
  • Retailer
  • Microbusiness
  • Excess Grower
  • Designated Consumption Lounge

A microbusiness establishment would be allowed to grow up to 150 plants, process the plants, and sell the product on site. A consumption lounge would allow the consumption, but not the sale, of adult use marijuana. Excess grower license allows growing of a larger number of plants by using stacked licenses.

The remaining two new adult use licenses available in Michigan are for organizing a marijuana focused event, and a license to hold the event. These are not included in Kalamazoo’s proposed zoning ordinance. City staff recommends that these two licenses be considered for inclusion later in 2020 or early 2021. Part of the reason for that pause is related to the coronavirus pandemic, City Planner Christina Anderson said.

Commissioners talked about the spacing requirements for the businesses included in the proposal, and asked city staff to bring more information about the expected impacts. Commissioners said they planned to examine the potential impacts of spacing requirements before approving a final version of the ordinance.

Watch a presentation (located in the video at approximately 45:00), and hear comments and discussion from other city officials in the full video of the virtual meeting:

Beyond the zoning ordinance, the city commission also accepted on first reading a proposed ordinance permitting recreational marijuana businesses in the city on Monday.

The city’s proposed rules would charge $5,000 for a license that is renewed annually. It would include a social equity policy, designed to help people who have been impacted by marijuana related enforcement in the past to enter the now legal industry.

The social equity policy would give a 25% reduction in city license fee for businesses with 51% or more ownership by one or more people residing in city census tracts 1 (Eastside), 9, 10, (Edison), and 2.02, 3 (Northside); or owned by a city resident with a marijuana conviction that does not involve distribution to a minor. The city’s proposed policy would will give a 10% reduction in the license fee for registered primary caregivers, registered for at least two years between 2008 and 2017.

The proposal would designate 25% of fees and tax generated revenue toward programs including:

  • A business incubator to help people of color prepare for ownership/operations of future marijuana establishments
  • Community outreach and education on topics such as adult use marijuana, difference between state and federal laws concerning marijuana and adult use in general.
  • Support Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo priorities (Strong Youth, Strong Families, Good jobs)
  • Home ownership – Down payment assistance for those negatively impacted by the war on drugs
  • Blight Elimination

The proposed social equity plan also states, “When any person or entity receives more than $10,000 in contract value or benefit from the City, the city will require a good faith effort to hire employees with prior marijuana convictions or that live in Census Tracts 1 (Eastside); 9, 10 (Edison); or 2.02, 3 (Northside).”

The proposed zoning rules include spacing requirements for some of the categories of businesses, requiring some of the businesses to be spaced 500 feet from other marijuana businesses.

Related: Cannabis lounges, retail stores allowed in proposed Kalamazoo zoning

The social equity plan would allow more lenient spacing requirements for retailer businesses and mircobusinesses when the majority owner is either a past three-year resident of the specific census tracts in the city, or someone who has been convicted of a marijuana related crime besides distribution to a minor, Christina Anderson said, reducing the spacing requirement between other marijuana businesses from 500 feet down to 250 feet.

The social equity policy was part of the discussion Monday, Christina Anderson said, though it will be presented formally for consideration at the next meeting. A resolution for the social equity policy will be up for approval at the next meeting, and it does not require two readings, Mayor David Anderson said.

City officials discussed the social equity plan during a special meeting on Monday, April 27:

The city of Kalamazoo is taking longer than other neighboring communities to allow recreational marijuana businesses to open.

For example, Bangor, a community between Kalamazoo and South Haven, began allowing recreational marijuana sales in February. KKind, a recreational marijuana retailer in Kalamazoo Township and the first in the Kalamazoo County, opened March 13.

Read more:

$86M anonymous gift meant to generate ongoing funding for Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo’s proposed recreational marijuana business ordinances up for approval next month

Voters encouraged to drop off ballots at drive-up box near Kalamazoo City Hall


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