Published in Economic Development

Grand Rapids postpones recreational marijuana to discuss separation requirements, data

BY Friday, January 24, 2020 11:59am

GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids Planning Commission postponed talks about allowing recreational marijuana businesses in the city to hold more discussion on separation requirements and other aspects of the ordinance.

During its Thursday meeting, Planning Commissioners discussed text amendments to the zoning ordinance related to recreational marijuana, which would add some uses to what the city allows for marijuana businesses.

The Planning Commission voted to pick up the discussion at its Feb. 13 meeting.

If approved, the City Commission would need to also approve the amendments and hold another public hearing. The consideration for allowing recreational marijuana businesses comes after 24 medical marijuana facilities have been approved across the city.

Michigan voters in November 2018 approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which allows for the possession, consumption and home growing of marijuana for recreational purposes and allows municipalities to choose whether to allow recreational marijuana-based businesses.

The amendments in Grand Rapids allow for growing, processing, testing, transport and retail sales of both recreational and medical marijuana. 

Commissioners asked city staff to revise the proposed amendments, making separation distance requirements between marijuana businesses shorter; striking religious institutions from a list of “sensitive uses” that required a waiver; and considering allowing temporary event licenses, which are a new use allowed by the state of Michigan, but that staff had not proposed to be part of the rules in Grand Rapids.

Kristen Turkelson, acting director of design, development and community engagement for the city, said this is because the city does not have experience regulating these types of licenses, and they are relatively new in other states that allow recreational marijuana.

“We don’t have a lot of best practices to refer to,” she said. 

The city will allow microbusinesses, which allow for growing 150 plants, while processing and selling in the same location.

Planning Commissioners also asked that the staff to bring data on how many properties, based on separation requirements, would be available for recreational marijuana use. This stemmed from a criticism of the way the city handled medical marijuana, as local advocates felt the properties were too limited, causing prices to drastically increase for those properties.

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