by CYNTHIA KMETT
Council wants to hear from you: Good idea or not?
There are currently 55 facilities in Troy where caregivers can grow medical marijuana for themselves and five others, or up to 72 plants. That all started in 2008 when Michigan voters approved the sale of medical marijuana.
But times changed, and in December 2016 the state’s legislature came up with a new plan, the Michigan Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, one designed to keep a better eye on the medical marijuana community. This act allows five different licenses for the providers of marijuana to use in the commercial arena. These facilities include; 1. Grow facilities for up to 1,500 plants; 2. Processing facilities for medical marijuana; 3. Safety compliance centers for testing the potency and purity of medical marijuana; 4. Provisioning centers for the sale of medical marijuana and edibles (similar to a dispensary); and 5. Secure transporter facilities – businesses that transport medical marijuana between licensed facilities.
But future operators don’t get to do any of these things “by right.” Unlike caregivers, a municipality has the right to “opt in” or “opt out” of having any of these five facilities in their community.
Troy put a moratorium on new medical marijuana facilities in Troy last spring, while they studied the issue of whether to opt in or opt out, which they did last Monday. No decision was made, perhaps because the new list of 33 page “emergency rules” for the law were what Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm called ambiguous.
Even the state needed time to come up with some rules for the new facilities. Last week they put out the list of 33 pages of emergency rules. According to Shelley Edgerton, director of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), these rules are just preliminary. She was at a Troy City Council study session on the question of the new businesses.
An application to operate such a facility became available last Friday, December 15. The city has received a number of inquiries about how to become part of the new system in Troy. It will, however, take the state a while, perhaps a few months, to see if those who apply are fit to run such an operation. The state is calling for a list of tracking systems to know who can buy the drug, how many plants does the facility have, are they safe, are all the rules being followed. A business might get preliminary approval, but the actual license, Edgerton pointed out, comes later.
Attorney Jeff Schroder of Plunkett Cooney was also at the study session. He explained that the new system will track every single ounce of product throughout the state, including daily limits for patients. He said the rules are very strict. Schroder added that many of the jobs in the new operations will take skilled professionals, and are expected to be quite well paid positions.
Council had a lot of questions, and concerns.
Do they have to have all five operations if they opt in? “No,” City Attorney Bluhm explained. The city can choose one, two or even all five options. Plus, if they opt out, that doesn’t shut down the current caregiver operations in the city.
“But what if Troy opts in?,” wondered Councilman Dave Henderson, and discovered that it wasn’t profitable to keep their operation going in Troy. Schroder said the caregiver has 30 days to get their caregiver product to the marketplace. He did warn that if Troy opted out, it was possible that someone might start an initiative petition to let voters put whether or not to opt in on the ballot.
What about competition between current caregivers and the new people operating dispensaries, Councilman Ethan Baker asked. It could cause problems between the two groups, Edgerton observed.
Bluhm, Mayor Dane Slater and Councilwoman Edna Abrahim were all a bit concerned that all the inspections, tracking and other decisions were in the hands of the state and the Michigan State Police. There didn’t appear to be any local police participation in those new “emergency rules.” Edgerton said the plans are that the state will be partnering with local law enforcement, but those plans are still to be decided.
Is there any money in this for Troy? Not much apparently. It doesn’t matter who leases a building, they still have to pay property taxes. It seems that the most a city will be allowed to charge for a license is $5,000. In addition, the city can pass reasonable regulations for the business – noise, hours of operation, odors, even the number of licenses the city would allow. It seemed a little early to make regulations when they didn’t know if they’d have any operations to regulate.
Rather, council decided to get a little input from those who already are caregivers, staff, residents, and even lawyers. They decided to try to spend a little time digesting those 33 pages of regulations they were just handed out and have another study session on January 22, 2018.
There is one other item for council to consider. It appears that marijuana for everyone will make it to the ballot in November 2018. Even if you voted for medical marijuana back in 2008, you’ll have to decide if you want everyone to have access to the substance.
Tell council what you think of the new marijuana businesses for Troy. Send them an email at www.troymi.gov and go under the community tab to find the council.