Opting out – Recreational marijuana and the City

By now you’re probably aware that Michigan voters passed Proposal 1 – which permits recreational marijuana. In the City of Frankenmuth, residents voted down Proposal 1 by a margin of almost two to one (November 2018; yes = 996, no = 1919). There has been a lot of press recently about communities who are choosing to permit commercial operations that would allow for the sale, growing, and testing of marijuana. There are also more than 250 communities in the state that are “opting out.”

On Tuesday, February 5, the City of Frankenmuth introduced an ordinance to “opt out.” (Opting out only regulates the commercialization of marijuana.) Before we talk about what exactly this means, it’s important to understand that even though City residents voted “no,” the state law still applies. The law permits persons 21 years of age and older to:

  • Possess, use consume, purchase, transport or process 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana
  • Within a person’s residence, possess, store and process not more than 10 ounces of marijuana; any marijuana produced by marijuana plants cultivated on the premises; and for one’s person use, cultivate up to 12 plants at any one time, on one’s premises
  • Give away or otherwise transfer without payment up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana
  • Assist another person who is 21 years of age or more in any of the acts above
  • Use, manufacture, possess, and purchase marijuana accessories and distribute or sell marijuana accessories to persons who are 21 years of age or older.

People are not permitted to consume marijuana in a public place (like a park, while walking down the sidewalk, etc.) or smoke it where prohibited by a person who owns, occupies or manages property (this would include hotel rooms or a rented home or apartment). You also can’t grow plants if the plants are visible from a public place. You can’t possess marijuana or accessories or consume it on the grounds of a private or public school. And finally, the act gives communities the right to determine whether or not they want to permit commercial operations in their City – they can chose to permit such development or “opt out.”

Staff and City Council have discussed the new law and its potential impact. We also understand that local voters rejected the measure but a pretty hefty margin. Given what we know about our city, our neighborhoods and our business community, we don’t think commercializing recreational marijuana is the right fit for Frankenmuth. The “opt out” ordinance that has been introduced states, “no marijuana establishments, as defined by the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, Section 6.1 are permitted within the boundaries of the City.” On March 5, a public hearing will take place at the City Council meeting (7 pm) to hear any comments or concerns. After the public hearing, City Council can adopt the ordinance prohibiting such business operations.

The act can be confusing to read and there are a lot of nuances to it – you can read the whole thing here. Opting out addresses some of the potential impacts of the new act. There most likely will be additional changes that we need to make to our general and zoning ordinances in the next several months. We are working with an attorney to draft needed changes tin order to comply with State law as well as ensure that commercialization would not be permitted in the City. If you have questions, please let me know.

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