CHEBOYGAN — Tuesday night, the Cheboygan City Council adopted an ordinance to opt out of recreational marijuana facilities at this time and will revisit the matter after the beginning of the new calendar year.
A public hearing was held at the city council meeting to gain public input on the ordinance that would amend the Code of the City of Cheboygan by adding Chapter 100, Article nine of the city code, regarding the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. This ordinance would prohibit recreational marijuana establishments within the borders of the City of Cheboygan.
“The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is basically the recreational side of the act,” said Cheboygan City Manager Tom Eustice. “There is a Medical Marijuana Act that isn’t part of this. This was voted on with legislation in November of 2018, to make recreational marijuana legal in the State of Michigan.”
The city has the ability to opt out of those laws currently. The city can also opt back in at a later date, once the State of Michigan develops the policies, laws and procedures that are much more clear than what is currently on record.
Most municipalities in the state are opting out of the recreational marijuana at this point, until all of the laws and procedures are adopted by the state, making things clearer.
“We still are, as a municipality, considering medical marijuana dispensaries and grow facilities in the City of Cheboygan,” said Eustice. “The planning commission and City Attorney Stephen Lindsay are working on that ordinance, a draft copy of that ordinance, right now.”
If the city does not draft a recreational marijuana ordinance by Dec. 6 of this year, or if they do not opt out by that date, it will automatically be legal in the city to open a recreational marijuana facility. If this happens, the city will have absolutely no control over these facilities.
“They would be able to open a facility basically anywhere in the city, without any ordinance in place,” said Eustice.
Another aspect of this, if the city does not opt out at this time and it becomes legal to open one anywhere in the city, the city would no longer be able to receive the 10 percent excise tax from the recreational marijuana. The facility would then be registered through the State of Michigan, who would not require the local municipality to receive that tax revenue.
If this were to happen, by not opting out before Dec. 6, the city would have no control over the recreational marijuana facilities, dispensaries or other businesses in the city limits. One of these facilities could open right next to a school or church, and the city would have no say.
City Mayor Mark Bronson said the state did amend their rules that were originally put in place July 1. These amended rules by the state will most likely be the ones to go into effect.
“We don’t have time to write the ordinance right now,” said Bronson. “But I would expect Jan. 1, that we should be able to rely on either those July 1 rulings, or they’re going to have something else.”
It was the recommendation of both Eustice and Lindsay that the city opt out at this time, until such time the clearer regulations and laws are put in place, in order to draft an ordinance for the City of Cheboygan at a future date.
Several members of the public stated there are a lot of people who use the medical marijuana for medical reasons, such as helping with treatment for cancer.
Reasons such as this are why the city council already approved moving forward with allowing medical marijuana facilities within the city. The matter before the board Tuesday night was dealing with only the recreational facilities.
City residents offered their input that they agreed with the City of Cheboygan that they should opt out at this time, so the municipality is not losing out on the tax revenue.
“My plan would be to reconsider this in the new year,” said Bronson.
If the city were to opt back in after the new year, the municipality would still be eligible to receive the tax revenue.
Councilwoman Sara Johnston stated she does not want this matter to get pushed to the back burner and then the city not bring it back up again after the new year. She wanted to make sure it was revisited, so the city wasn’t left with a blanket ordinance, opting them out.
City council members can request anything to be placed on the agenda for any of their regularly scheduled meetings at any time. So this recreational marijuana matter can come back before council any time with a request.
Another aspect of the law gives residents of the city the option to petition to have the matter put on the ballot if they are not happy with the decision by the city council members. Such a petition has been filed in the City of Petoskey and could result in a ballot proposal.
The city council members voted unanimously to opt out of the recreational marijuana at this time, effective immediately, as well as to revisit the matter again in the new year.