Berkley looking at ordinance to prohibit marijuana businesses

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published December 4, 2018

BERKLEY — As Ferndale looks into allowing recreational marijuana businesses, Berkley is heading in the opposite direction for the time being.

At its Nov. 19 meeting, the City Council held a first reading of an ordinance that would prohibit recreational marijuana businesses in the city. The first reading passed unanimously.

The decision came after the passage of Proposal 1 earlier last month, which allows people 21 and older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles, as well as grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption.

Local cities must decide whether they want to opt out of letting businesses apply for licenses to operate within their borders. Berkey’s staff and city attorney, John Staran, recommended opting out.

“By passing this ordinance … what you’re effectively doing is maintaining the status quo,” he said. “We don’t have marijuana businesses in the city now. This would continue it until at least such time, at such future date, that the city may decide whether and to what extent, where you might allow marijuana businesses to locate, but for the time being, until the ordinance would later be rescinded or amended, we would be prohibiting marijuana businesses.”

Staran wanted to make it clear that the ordinance would only prohibit the establishment of marijuana businesses in the city, and would not affect any other parts of Proposal 1.

“That is the legalization of personal use and possession and transfer and growth of small amounts of marijuana. That is still allowed. That’s going to be the law in the state of Michigan,” he said.

The ordinance was something that the City Council was OK with, as Mayor Pro Tem Steve Baker said the council can take a slow and steady approach.

“This is just a first reading,” he said. “If we were to find either some additional information tonight or … the next council meeting, we can certainly revisit this and perhaps take it a different direction.”

Resident David Lupien-Parrish, who said he is a medical marijuana cardholder, advocated that the city not pass the ordinance, as it will be a while anyway before shops can obtain a license. The council can learn the information it wants to know in the meantime, he said.

“It’s kind of shortsighted to immediately opt out. I think the way that they wrote it was so that it would have to be considered in communities,” he said. “I have to go down to Detroit. I have to go south of Eight Mile to get my medicine, and that creates a hardship for me, having to go down there, go down to bad areas, worry about what’s going to happen down there. And the way that it was written before, communities had to decide to allow these. So nobody did, except for Detroit. So I think the reason that they wanted it to be this way was so that people had to consider it.”

Mayor Dan Terbrack told the Woodward Talk that there will be a second reading on the ordinance at some point, but no date had been set as of press time.

“There’s just too much uncertainty right now in terms of what the regulations are going to look like, how that’s going to be rolled out and what impact, financially, it may have on the city,” he said of his support for the ordinance. “Once the state has had a lot more time and has actually told us a lot more, we’ll have then a better idea, but if we didn’t take any action or at least look at taking any action, we would kind of be in limbo. This just makes sure that the city at least has some control over what happens in the future, but if the regulations come down and it makes a lot of sense and it’s something that the residents want us to have in the city, then it’s something that we can certainly revisit.”