GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Grand Rapids officials are now eyeing an Oct. 20 date to begin accepting applications for recreational marijuana businesses in the city.
The city commission will consider a resolution amendment Tuesday, March 17, that would buy the city six more months to prepare its ordinance for recreational marijuana. Without adopting an amended resolution, the city would have to accept applications beginning April 20.
Tuesday’s discussion will be the first for the commission since it couldn’t reach a decision Feb. 25 on how to move forward with regards to the city’s marijuana ordinance. Commissioners voted down multiple proposals that evening, including to set a public hearing, and to put a moratorium on all non-approved applications for six months.
Commissioners will discuss and vote on the resolution during the 9:30 a.m. Tuesday committee of the whole meeting at City Hall. The vote could be finalized through a consent agenda vote that evening at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Tuesday’s resolution would delay recreational marijuana applications from being considered for special land use by the city until Oct. 20. It would not stop the city from accepting new medical marijuana applications, according to city staff.
If the resolution is passed, city staff will spend the next six months developing a new licensing framework. City Manager Mark Washington has created a work group to develop recommendations for ordinances, policies and processes related to marijuana.
The group has begun reviewing data on the effectiveness of the MIVEDA policy, considering equity practices implemented by other states and communities, and outlining elements of a future equity policy proposal.
MIVEDA (Marihuana Industry Voluntary Equitable Development Agreement) was created by the city in December 2018 to award application priority to locals who wanted to get into the lucrative industry. Frustrated city officials have voiced concerns regarding the effectiveness of MIVEDA due to the lack of resident access to the industry.
The city manager’s work group includes City Attorney Anita Hitchcock, Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong, Acting Director of Equity and Engagement Stacy Stout and Acting Planning Director Kristin Turkelson. It also includes staff from the executive office, law department, equity and engagement, public oversight and accountability, planning, economic development and the development center.
If the resolution is passed Tuesday, residents can expect a public hearing in late August before the commission considers adopting the proposed amendments in September.
Previously, Commissioner Senita Lenear called for a six-month moratorium on both recreational marijuana applications and any non-approved medical marijuana applications. Commissioners Nathaniel Moody and Joseph Jones said they’d support the moratorium only if the 14 medical marijuana applications awaiting planning commission review weren’t frozen.
Commissioners Jon O’Connor and Kurt Reppart spearheaded the opposition to delaying the application processes.
Last week, Kent County’s first recreational marijuana business opened in Lowell. More than 100 people lined up to purchase some of the first legal recreational marijuana sold in Kent County.
Michigan voters legalized recreational marijuana in November 2018.
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