Center Line approves medical marijuana facilities ordinance

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published December 15, 2017


CENTER LINE — Michigan’s new laws governing medical marijuana are still hazy, but officials in Center Line are looking to nip any potential problems in the bud.

City Manager Dennis Champine said the City Council voted unanimously Dec. 4 to approve a new ordinance setting guidelines for the commercial growth, processing and dispensing of  medical  marijuana in accordance with new state law. The Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, or MMFLA, was approved by the state Legislature in 2016 and was set to go into effect Dec. 15.

The new act defines five types of licenses related to commercial medical marijuana facilities — growers,  processors,  provisioning centers,  secure transporters and safety compliance centers — and outlines the various provisions for each type and sub-type.

The MMFLA runs parallel to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which passed by a state referendum in 2008, when it was approved by 62.67 percent of the voters statewide.

“We’re  getting our ducks in a row before the state does their thing and pulls the trigger on this,” Champine said. “After looking at several of the communities that are considering adopting ordinances, it appears that we might be on pace to have one of the strictest guidelines in Macomb County. Individual applicants will have to go through quite a large number of requirements to get their place properly licensed here in the city. There’s going to be very strict guidelines set forth, and those have been set forth in this ordinance.”

Champine said Center Line will limit its number of licenses to 15 in each of the five classes. He said licensed growers, processors and provisioning centers will be permitted to “stack” licenses of these types in any combination at one business, while licensed secure transporters and safety compliance facilities will not.

Growers assigned to one of three classes are permitted under the state act to grow a specified number of  plants. The ordinance specifies a maximum number of five licenses for each of the three grower classes, for a total of 15 licenses.

Processors essentially will be licensed to manufacture medical  marijuana “edibles” and  byproducts.  

Provisioning centers are more commonly referred to as dispensaries.

Secure transporters and safety compliance facilities are governed under state law regarding the respective transportation and purity of the product manufactured at a licensed medical marijuana facility.

Center Line has also imposed zoning and building requirements that govern the location and layout of such facilities, as well as security.  

“We want these facilities to be comparable to a pharmaceutical company: brick and mortar, nice  building, surrounded by security fencing. Security is an absolute  priority,” Champine said.  He added that security cameras are required and that recorded footage must be preserved for 30 days. All facilities must also provide the Center Line Public Safety Department with an IP address to facilitate video monitoring in real time.

All facilities will be subject to a $500 application fee, a non-refundable $5,000 business license and a $2,500 annual inspection fee. With the addition of the expected tax revenue, Champine said a conservative estimate points to a $150,000 annual boon for the city.  

He said medical marijuana facilities will be permitted in light and heavy industrial areas only. That includes the corridor along Sherwood Avenue, on the west side of the city, as well as parts of Liberal Street and Lawrence Avenue.

Center Line Mayor Robert Binson said the city stands to benefit financially by opting in to a process approved under state law.  

“Our ordinance is going to be very strict in comparison to other communities,” Binson said. “We  believe businesses that want to run a legitimate legal business in accordance with the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act will want to be party to that process here in Center Line, because they know their business will be protected from any possible inherent issues that may arise from this type of activity.”

Staff Writer Nick Mordowanec contributed to this report.