Council briefed on medical marijuana regulatory issues

ALPENA — Members of Alpena Municipal Council will have to consider a host of new state laws going into effect in December concerning medical marijuana facilities in the state.

On Monday, Development Director Adam Poll briefed council on the ever-changing landscape of medical marijuana laws and said there have been some changes since he last discussed the issue with council.

The new laws are intended to try to tie up loose ends and inconsistencies in the medical marijuana law, which was passed in 2008. The new laws would allow various medical marijuana businesses to apply for state license. Municipalities can opt into the laws, vote to not accept the facilities in the municipalities, or remain silent on the issue, according to Poll.

“Ultimately speaking there has been some movement since I last talked to you,” Poll said.

He said the original law allowed the “stacking” of medical marijuana growers.

Poll said that means various medical marijuana businesses could “stack” growing operations in a single facility. Poll said, however, that idea already has changed in a late October version of the medical marijuana licensing act.

Poll said if the bills were not finalized by the December deadline then existing facilities could apply for licenses under emergency laws that would be implemented to govern the facilities. He said there has never been a medical marijuana facility in the city since the laws were created in 2008, though there were facilities briefly in Alpena Township.

Poll also gave information to council from the Michigan Municipal League and said according to experts state legislators want to leave work up to the municipalities.

“I would point you to section five where they talk about regulations they do say that right now the state seems uninteresting in vetting the applications and leaving it to the local government,” he said.

Poll also said depending on what happens with recreational marijuana laws in the state the medical marijuana laws could be changed.

City Manager Greg Sundin said eventually a decision will have to be made on the issue by the council.

“I would say you should take the next couple weeks and read this and perhaps we can put it on the first meeting in December and at that point you could give us direction on what you want to do,” he said.

Councilman Mike Nowak asked how long the state would take to finally decide the laws.

Sundin said it could be a moving target that could take months to a year.

“It could be shorter if everyone really gets their act together,” he said.

Mayor Matt Waligora asked Sundin whether the matter should be put on another meeting agenda or if council members should wait until Poll gives more information to the council.

Nowak said more information and updates provided to council should be given first.

Poll said he would continue to update council on the changes and ultimately it was council’s decision to make.

“If we are going to allow these facilities we need to go ahead with the planning commission and the police to see what direction we’re going to go,” he said.

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews.