IONIA — Planning commissioners are working to bring an opt-in ordinance for adult-use marijuana to the Ionia City Council in January 2021.
The Ionia Planning Commission outlined the timeline to draft and recommend an opt-in ordinance for adult-use marijuana at its Wednesday, Aug. 12, Zoom meeting.
Ionia City Manager Jason Eppler noted the city council requested at its July meeting to ask the planning commission to consider drafting and recommend a zoning-based opt-in ordinance for adult-use marijuana — likely similar to the city’s medical marijuana ordinance.
In October 2019, the Ionia City Council voted to opt out of allowing adult-use marijuana establishments.
Eppler said council members expressed concerns the state had rushed its rules and didn’t have a thorough process in place for dealing with license requests.
“I think there’s a comfort level now that the process at the state level is in place, so the council asks the planning commission to begin drafting the opt-in ordinance,” Eppler said.
Ionia Planning Commission Chair Boomer Hoppough, Planning Consultant Jan Johnson and Eppler met last week to put the framework in place to bring a first draft of an opt-in ordinance to the commission, the city manager said.
Eppler would like the planning commission to offer a recommendation in time for the city council to vote on an ordinance at its January 2021 meeting.
“Obviously, it’s a fairly aggressive schedule but I think that based on the commission’s familiarity with dealing with marijuana in general, I think you can meet that,” Eppler said.
Johnson plans to present a first draft of the ordinance at the planning commission’s October meeting. She recommended having a separate ordinance from medical marijuana.
“They’re separate laws so we want separate ordinances and for the few differences that there are between the two laws we want to make sure that the adult-use one covers everything in that law without mixing it in with the medical,” Johnson said.
Johnson hopes to use much of the medical marijuana ordinance language for adult-use. She added that after the presentation of the first draft in October, Eppler suggested tweaking it in November before a public hearing and recommendation in December.
“You’re in really good shape because a lot of communities didn’t do either (adult-use or medical marijuana ordinances) — now they want to do both,” Johnson said.
David Bye, co-founder of ArCanna, 29 Beardsley Road, in Ionia, expressed during public comment his desire for an adult-use ordinance to pass in Ionia.
The original business model for ArCanna was structured to have medical and adult use marijuana. After saying an adult-use ordinance would create more jobs and expand his facility, Bye noted a provisioning center was approved in Easton Township less than three miles from where ArCanna is located.
“We need to be first to market to capture that market share so we can bring those tax dollars, we can bring those jobs, we can bring that money into Ionia to prevent the people here from having to go to Lowell or have to go Easton (Township),” Bye said.
Kyle Miller, organizer of Safe Ionia, said he could provide any advice or answer questions if needed.
“I just want to express my support for your efforts to opt-in to the recreational aspect of the cannabis industry,” Miller said.
In the November 2018 election, roughly 64 percent of city of Ionia voters approved of legalizing adult-use marijuana and establishments in the state.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first time the planning commission had met since March 11.
— Contact reporter Evan Sasiela at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SalsaEvan.