SAULT STE. MARIE — The Sault city commission recently voted in favor of two motions regarding the consideration of Ordinance 600-20, which details establishment of marijuana facilities.
At a city commission meeting on Monday, Aug. 3, a public comment period was given in regards to this particular ordinance, which includes both recreational and medical marijuana facilities. Shawn Atto, a Sault resident, expressed his concern for provisioning centers on the business spur in close proximity to one another given the amount of hotels and tourist spots in that particular area.
A provisioning center is defined as a dispensary where marijuana is sold to registered medical cannabis patients or primary caregivers.
Atto also expressed his dislike about the distance that will be required from the provisioning center to properties owned by Lake Superior State University and houses of worship, which will be 500 feet and 250 feet respectively. He believes the centers would be too close.
Aleister Goodboo-Pether, a Lake State student who is in the cannabis program, voiced his support regarding this matter.
“Having (Lake State) be so progressive and having these new chemistry and business degrees, I feel like we might want to be careful in putting a ton of restrictions on what LSSU can and can’t do with businesses in the Sault,” he said. “Considering all of the students that are going to Lake State specifically for the prospect of getting into the cannabis industry.”
In November 2018, Michigan voters approved a ballot initiative officially called the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, or MRTMA. This act provides for the recreational use of marijuana throughout the state by defining, regulating and creating state-issued licenses for various “marihuana establishments.”
The city of Sault Ste. Marie had 2703 votes in favor of MRTMA whereas 1855 votes were opposed.
According to a report by city manager Brian Chapman, this new act did not repeal the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, another ballot initiative approved by voters in 2008. It also did not repeal the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, also referred to as MMFLA, that was adopted by the state legislature in 2016. The MMFLA established a statewide licensing procedure for medical marihuana facilities and granted cities the right to “opt in” by creating their own authorizing ordinances and subsequent zoning restrictions.
Permissible facilities under the MMFLA and the MRTMA are as follows:
Grows are facilities that are licensed to grow marijuana plants that may only sell to a processor or provisioning center/retailer. Must comply with seed-to-sale tracking system. Also required to comply with safety features identified within the State statute and local ordinances such as camera coverage, secured door ways, odor controls, fencing, etc. Grows are broken up into three licensing categories which determines how many plants they can grow.
Processors facilities that take marijuana plants and turn them into oils, creams or edibles. Must comply with seed-to-sale tracking system. Also required to comply with safety features identified within the state statute and local ordinances such as camera coverage, secured door ways, odor controls, fencing, etc.
Secure transporters are businesses that are licensed to transport money and product to and from destinations for a fee. Transport businesses found in other states utilize secured trucks and vans operated by armed guards.
Testing facilities are secured facilities responsible for testing cannabis products for purity and compliance with various health codes. These establishments follow general requirements and practices associated with any type of testing facility or lab.
Provisioning centers/retailers buy products from grows or processors. Must comply with seed-to-sale tracking system. They are required to comply with safety features identified within the state statute and local ordinances such as camera coverage, secured door ways, odor controls, fencing, etc.
The ordinance details areas where these establishments are prohibited and required distance separations. Marijuana facilities will be prohibited within the boundaries of the Downtown Development Authority.
Additionally, the minimum distance separations shall be as follows:
1,000 feet from public and private elementary, middle, and high schools.
500 feet from properties owned by Lake Superior State University.
250 feet from child care establishments licensed by the State of Michigan.
250 feet from publicly and privately owned parks and recreational complexes appearing within the city of Sault Ste. Marie Master Parks & Recreation Plan.
250 feet from houses of worship.
250 feet from substance abuse treatment establishments licensed by the State of Michigan.
100 feet from zoning districts: R-1, RS-1, RS-2, R-1A, R-2, RM-1, RM-2, and RSV.
100 feet from property not located in any of the zoning districts listed above but used wholly or in part for residential purposes.
The city staff recently added in more criteria on what type of documents have to be submitted with the application. Such criteria included a security plan, a waste management plan, business plan and a couple of criteria for staff and Chapman to consider when reviewing applications for an issuance of a city permit.
In the application for a new annual permit, an application for a marijuana facility should be submitted to the city clerk on a form provided by the city, which shall fulfill all of the requirements indicated on the form, including but not limited to:
The name and address of the facility and any other contact information requested on the application form.
The name and address of all owners of the real property where the facility is located.
Name and address of all business managers of the facility.
Proof of applicant’s ownership or legal possession of the premises.
A certificate of occupancy or temporary certificate of occupancy.
A copy of the proposed business plan for the facility, including, but not limited to the proposed ownership structure of the facility, including percentage ownership of each person or entity and planned worker training programs.
A description of the security plan for the adult-use marijuana facility, including, but not limited to, any lighting, alarms, barriers, recording/monitoring devices, and/or security guard arrangements proposed for the facility and premises. The security plan must contain the specification details of each piece of security equipment. Each adult-use marijuana facility must have a security guard present during business hours or alternative security procedures shall be proposed in the business plan.
Facility sanitation plan to protect against any marijuana being ingested by any person or animal, indicating how the waste will be stored and disposed of, and how any marijuana will be rendered unusable upon disposal. The disposal by on-site burning or introduction in the sewerage system is prohibited.
The type of facility for which a permit is requested at the location specified in the application, which, for purposes of obtaining a permit under this chapter, shall be one of the following:
Safety compliance facility
Marijuana micro-business as defined in the MRTMA
During the Monday, Aug. 17 meeting, Stosh Wasik was the only person who spoke during the public comment period. Wasik said he owned the The Fire Station business in Marquette and Negaunee, which sells recreational and medical cannabis. He thanked the city for its hard work that was put in the ordinance and he said he was hopeful to move operations to the Sault.
Commissioner Shane Miller said in the meeting that he was “completely and 100% opposed” to this ordinance. He elaborated that he was opposed to marijuana manufacturing inside the city limits.
“I did see in Los Angeles about two months ago one of these marijuana manufacturing places had a fire and because of the chemicals and whatnot, the things they use, a lot of firefighters were hurt,” he said. “I really don’t want to bring this to our community. I don’t think we should put our first responders, our police department, our fire department in any harm’s way if something like this should catch on fire.”
Commissioner Abby Baker commended the city manager and city staff for their hard work on this matter.
She said, “The first time I brought it to the commission was December of 2018. I really like everything they put together… I think that this is a very good thing for our community. I think it’s got heavy regulations. We have empty buildings and businesses that are waiting to come in… I think we have done our due diligence together.”
Mayor Don Gerrie said this is something that has been talked about for a long time and he thinks that the right thing was done by making sure the State of Michigan fleshed out some of the finer details and consolidated their oversight into one agency.
The commission had three options to consider on this matter: adopt ordinance with modifications, direct staff to return with more information or take no action.
There were two recommended motions for the city commission to consider. The first was a motion to approve Ordinance 600-20 as presented. The motion was made by Baker and supported by Commissioner Greg Collins. The motion was carried with support from Gerrie, Baker, Commissioner Jodi Bosbous-Rath, Commissioner Greg Collins, Commissioner Tim Talentino and Commissioner Kathy Twardy. Miller was opposed.
The second recommended motion was to establish the permit fees for marijuana applications at $5,000 per license. The motion was made by Baker and was supposed by Bosbous-Rath. The motion ended up being carried with support from Gerrie, Baker, Bosbous-Rath, Collins, Talentino and Twardy. Miller was opposed.