Berkley City Council members prepare for a special meeting Jan. 23, during which they will discuss the merit-based criteria for evaluating businesses that apply for marijuana licenses.

Berkley City Council members prepare for a special meeting Jan. 23, during which they will discuss the merit-based criteria for evaluating businesses that apply for marijuana licenses.

Photo by Mike Koury


Berkley council close to finalizing marijuana license criteria

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published January 27, 2020

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BERKLEY — At a Jan. 23 special meeting, the Berkley City Council continued working to finalize its merit-based criteria for evaluating businesses that seek a marijuana license.

While coming close to approving the criteria, the council decided to hold off one more time to review a specific section of the document.

Heading into the meeting, city staff had made changes clarifying the terms “managing stakeholders” and “stakeholders.”

The city also included alternative options pertaining to the criteria, which included eliminating one criteria worth eight points and adding another at the top of the list, worth 26 points. This would increase the maximum points available for an applicant from 297 to 315, and any businesses that want to be considered for a license must accumulate 70% of that total to move forward, which is 221 points.

The new criteria would reward an applicant with up to 26 points if they can demonstrate the ability to successfully operate a marijuana business through three different means. The first sub score, worth 16 points, seeks a “supply chain with state-verified cultivation facility, with certification that adequate supply will be readily available for sales upon the anticipated opening date of the marihuana business.” It would require “cultivation to submit affidavit affirming supply levels.”

The second and third sub scores, worth five points each, state that “at least one managing stakeholder demonstrates at least 1 year of experience operating a licensed marihuana business” and that “at least one managing stakeholder demonstrates at least 1 year of experience operating a licensed marihuana business ... in other legal jurisdictions,” respectively.

Mayor Dan Terbrack brought his attention to this criteria, as he felt it was very important to include.

“For me, focusing on the strength of the operator is incredibly important and having supply and being able to have state-verified cultivation so that we know that whatever is happening in our city from a supply standpoint is tested, approved and verified by the state,” he said.

Because the council didn’t feel it had enough time to review this new criteria in order to give it approval, the decision was made to postpone the vote on the item until the next City Council meeting, currently scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3, at City Hall.

Terbrack said following the meeting that one of the things the city has to be sure of is that it has an operator who is able to obtain product when the business opens, as he’s heard of a number of marijuana dispensaries in the state that are not opening because they don’t have adequate supply to open or state-approved supplies.

“If we’re going to go through with this and we’re really focusing on the strength of the operator, I would assume that operator should have that in place already,” Terbrack said.

“I want to make sure it’s enforceable, too,” he continued. “If people can just write things and get around it, then it doesn’t necessarily work. So I want to make sure that it is enforceable.”

Outside of that issue, the council felt it was developing the criteria closer to where it needed to be.

Some other criteria was revised at the meeting. One change considered was whether to increase the point value of one criteria that read, “Application has disclosed 100% of owners and stakeholders, including those with less than 10% stake.”

Councilwoman Natalie Price advocated for the criteria to be one of the top two in value, but a compromise to 19 points would be something she would consider, as she felt it also went along with requirements in the pass/fail section of the application process that state that all disclosed stakeholders should be cleared of recorded detrimental acts to the public good.

“I think if that’s something that we value — which we should — that making sure we have applicants who are willing to disclose all their stakeholders is incredibly important,” she said.

While appreciating her recommendation, the rest of council didn’t feel it could move the criteria to as high as 15, as they believed the items above it should be valued more.

“For me, that would be a good compromise and just trying to bridge that gap a little bit,” Councilman Ross Gavin said of valuing the criteria at 15.

Another change sought to remove lines in the criteria worth 17 points that read, “At least one managing stakeholder is either a current property owner in Berkley, and has been for at least six months as of the application date, or is a current majority owner or stakeholder of an existing Berkley business, and has been for at least six months as of the application date.”

The council moved in a 4-3 vote to remove language referencing a property owner or business owner in Berkley for “at least six months.”

“I don’t see that making as much of a difference,” Terbrack said. “What I’m really focused on, again, is who are the operators, because very few folks that have reached out to me have said they’re applying on their own. ... I want to make sure it’s the right group, and I don’t think it’s always just about how long somebody may or may not have had the property.”

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