Ferndale looks to resume medical marijuana talks in city

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published February 27, 2018

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FERNDALE — Ferndale officials are hoping to resume talks about modifying the city’s medical marijuana guidelines after changes were made at the state level.

Mayor Dave Coulter said, when asked if there is something he wants to address soon in the city, it is getting back to the conversation of medical marijuana.

The city had put on hold allowing new medical marijuana businesses from opening under the new Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act guidelines until the city had a chance to make changes to its own guidelines to cooperate with the state.

“The initial conversation mostly was had last summer and last fall, and council had a workshop about how they should best update the medical marijuana ordinance to align with all the state guidelines,” City Planner Justin Lyons said. 

Lyons said there have been discussions with the Police Department, Fire Department, Planning Commission and City Council on drafts of the guidelines.

“We kind of have a rough draft that I think council would like the Planning Commission to review, likely probably sometime in March, and after that it would go to City Council, potentially in April,” he said. “That would, I think, clarify some of the discrepancies between our current ordinance and what the state’s new regulations are.”

Michigan’s new regulations state that a medical marijuana business can open under one of five licenses: as a grower, processor, safety compliance facility, transporter or provisioning center. They went into effect Dec. 15, 2017.

Cities can decide which of the five they will allow prospective businesses to be able to apply for, and overall how many businesses they will let into the city limits.

“It’s still pretty rough, I would say, but at this point it clarifies what the number of different types of facilities the city feels like there should be in the city,” Lyons said. “It clarifies what areas of the city where these facilities will be located in and then describes more of an application process.”

Coulter said the city gets called every week, sometimes every day, from people who want to open a marijuana business in Ferndale.

“There’s an active interest in it, and they know that Ferndale is going to participate,” he said. “We just haven’t decided, under the framework that the state revealed, you know, there’s five different kinds of licenses that you can offer, and so we just haven’t decided which of those five and how many of them we’re going to do yet.”

Coulter said he’s not sure as to what would be the right number of licenses to have for the city, but his general sense is to start slow and small and grow rather than to start with too many and try to scale it back.

“That’s just me. I don’t know where council will be. Our council has to make that decision,” he said.

As for which types of facilities he thinks might come into Ferndale, Coulter said he wants the city to offer dispensaries so that residents don’t have to leave the community to get medical marijuana, but he remains skeptical of allowing grow operations, as he’s worried the industrial part of town is not conducive to it.

“I’m open to talking about that and listening to staff recommendations, but we don’t have the available land facilities to make that transition as easy as other communities like Troy, or some of the ones in the north part of the county do,” he said. “And we don’t have a lot of vacancies in our industrial section. You know, a lot of communities are looking at it because they have vacancies in big industrial buildings that can easily be converted to grow operations, which we don’t have that. It would look different in Ferndale, so I’m more cautious about that.”