Published in Economic Development

GR City Commission to consider allowing some recreational marijuana businesses

BY Tuesday, June 02, 2020 09:12pm

GRAND RAPIDS — Recreational marijuana processors, growers and transporters might be allowed in Grand Rapids before the city permits recreational dispensaries to open. 

The Grand Rapids City Commission is expected to vote at its June 16 meeting on whether to allow existing medical marijuana processors, growers and transporters to also handle recreational marijuana products for customers outside the city. 

As of May 10, the Planning Commission had approved waivers for 25 medical marijuana locations — including grow sites, dispensaries and processors — while denying them in eight cases. Four provisioning centers are in operation within the city limits: 3Fifteen at 2900 S. Division Ave.; Pharmhouse Wellness at 831 Wealthy St. SW; Fluresh at 1213 Phillips Ave. SW; and Joyology at 3769 28th St. SE.

First Ward Commissioner Jon O’Connor requested during the June 2 Committee of the Whole meeting that the city also allow existing medical provisioning centers in the city to begin selling recreational marijuana. O’Connor said the sale of recreational marijuana has the potential to bring in “at least $1 million of tax revenue” into the city.

The city was initially going to start accepting applications on April 20 for recreational marijuana businesses. During a March 17 committee meeting, commissioners voted 5-2 to push the date back until Oct. 20, 2020, with O’Connor and Commissioner Nathaniel Moody in opposition. 

The city put workgroups into place to study the issue, but O’Connor said he thinks some steps can be taken in the interim.

“I have to believe the majority of operators in the medical space have the desire to be in the recreational space as well,” O’Connor said. “The shift in the allowability to sell both medical and recreational seems very significant, but the footprints of buildings do not change and the products they are offering are very much the same.”

Also, municipalities no longer collect excise tax revenue from medical marijuana facilities. 

“I’m continuing to advocate that I want to see existing medical provisioning centers online sooner,” O’Connor said. “My hope is between now and (the meeting), we can find a way to get this intermediary step.”

No other commissioners indicated during the June 2 meeting that they agreed or disagreed with O’Connor’s suggestion to also allow medical dispensaries to start selling recreational, adult-use cannabis products. 

“We as a commission and as a city are doing as much as we can for small businesses, but I feel like we’re not doing that with the cannabis industry,” O’Connor said. “We’re treating them markedly different.”

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