Council opts out of medical marijuana

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published February 21, 2018

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The city of Troy opted out of allowing and regulating medical marijuana growing facilities in the city, but the decision won’t affect current facilities or licenses already issued. 

The Troy City Council voted 4-3 Feb. 5 to opt out. The vote came two weeks after the council decided by consensus in a Jan. 22 study session not to opt in or out of allowing and regulating medical marijuana growing facilities, but to wait and see what issues opt-in municipalities would face. 

Councilman Dave Henderson brought the matter forward as a council referral item. 

Henderson, Councilwomen Ellen Hodorek and Edna Abrahim, and Councilman Ethan Baker voted to exercise the city’s option to not allow medical marijuana facilities as defined by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act. 

Mayor Dane Slater and Councilmen Ed Pennington and David Hamilton voted against opting out at this time. 

There are currently about 55 designated caregiver grow facilities for up to 72 plants in 33 buildings located in industrial/business districts in Troy. The exact number of facilities was not available at press time. 

The state of Michigan began to accept license applications Dec. 15 for medical marijuana growing facilities that allow applicants to request a license before they’ve secured a location.

In September 2016, state lawmakers passed and the governor signed into law three bills that create a licensing and regulatory framework for medical marijuana, including the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facility Licensing Act, which allows commercial facilities to grow up to 1,500 plants, and for five types of licenses for the grow operations to be stacked together in one facility.

The act introduced five kinds of licenses: grower, processor, provisioning center, secure transporter and safety compliance center licenses.

Hamilton said the new state regulations are untested and he wants to take a “wait and see” approach. “I want to see what happens with other municipalities.” 

He noted that 2,000 Troy residents possess medical marijuana cards, and he said the opt-out is symbolic because by taking no action, the result would have been the same. The council had approved a 180-day moratorium on issuing permits to registered caregivers to operate marijuana growing facilities last April, then extended it for another 180 days in October. 

“I don’t see anything that’s changed since our last study session,” Slater said. He said he favored enacting a strict ordinance at a later date to regulate the facilities. 

“I don’t think we need to do this (opt out) right now,” he said. 

Abrahim said she was in favor of putting the matter to a vote. 

“It will give clarity,” she said. 

“I think the right thing to do is opt out,” Baker said. “I’m not prepared to opt in. This is not a rash decision.” 

Pennington said he was surprised that it came to a vote so soon.

 “I don’t think opting into medical marijuana would be a threat. I’m in favor of tabling it.” 

“It’s not an industry that fits here,” Hodorek said, adding that she is pro medical marijuana.