Onaway pondering marijuana businesses

Council tables decision on recreational microbusinesses

AP Photo This Feb. 17, 2016 file photo shows marijuana plants at a home in Honolulu. A growing majority of Americans say marijuana should be legal, underscoring a national shift as more states embrace cannabis for medical or recreational use. Illinois lawmakers working to legalize recreational marijuana have hit a potential snag: whether to allow people to grow a few pot plants for personal use. The 10 states that have legalized recreational marijuana have different "home grow" rules, with Michigan allowing individuals to grow as many as 12 plants and Washington state not allowing them to grow any. Home grow opponents say it fuels the black market. Proponents say people should be able to grow it if businesses sell it.

ONAWAY — Onaway City Council members tabled a decision on whether to amend its zoning ordinance to allow recreational marijuana within city limits until commissioners have more time to look at the issue.

Commissioners were given an ordinance on Monday to review just as their bi-monthly meeting was about to begin.

Commissioners are only considering allowing microbusinesses in its industrial district within the city, the majority of which is located on Industrial Drive, west of the city’s ambulance barn.

The state’s newly enacted recreational marijuana law allows anyone with a microbusiness license to grow up to 150 cannabis plants, process marijuana into concentrates, edibles, or other infused products, package those products, and sell those products to adults who are older than 21.

The law allows municipalities to prohibit recreational marijuana businesses within their borders. Most Northeast Michigan municipalities have done so.

Microbusinesses are one of six recreational marijuana licenses allowed by the state. However, commissioners aren’t considering anything other than microbusinesses at this time.

City Manager Kelli Stockwell said the city currently has an ordinance allowing medical marijuana facilities to operate within city limits, and there has been interest in a marijuana microbusiness.

The ordinance the council is considering stipulates that marijuana be grown and sold according to the requirements of state law and that the building be equipped with an activated air-scrubbing and carbon filtration system to control any odors.

Additionally, the ordinance stipulates that doors and windows at the business will remain closed, except when people enter or exit the building, that exterior facades must be opaque and marijuana cannot be visible from the outside windows.

Microbusinesses can operate between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and cannot receive deliveries after 8 p.m. or before 7 a.m.

The ordinance, however, would not limit the number of microbusinesses allowed in the city’s manufacturing zone. The question of whether there was a limit to the number of marijuana microbusinesses on Industrial Drive was brought forward by Commissioner Mike Benson.

City Attorney Mike Vogler said the ordinance would not establish a limit on the number of microbusinesses. He told commissioners that, if they wanted a limit, they would have to include the limit in their ordinance.

Any microbusiness applicant would need to prequalify for a state operating license, demonstrate that they own or have permission from the property’s owner to start a business at the location, and pay a $5,000 administrative fee in advance, among other stipulations.

The applicant would pay $5,000 annually to keep their special use permit.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.