Berkley working to accept marijuana business applications in 2020

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 24, 2019


BERKLEY — With actions taken at its most recent meeting, the Berkley City Council is aiming to accept applications for marijuana businesses at the start of 2020.

At its July 17 meeting, the council held a discussion about what the city plans to do for the rest of the year regarding both recreational and medical marijuana businesses; the decision was to craft a framework to allow both in the city.

“We are taking action today because we need to protect the city’s interest as we prepare to move forward next year,” Mayor Dan Terbrack said. “This is not a meeting where we are deciding the number of licenses we’re going to allow. … We’re not even talking about the official ordinances yet, because there is still a process that we need to go through well before we get to that point.”

As it was noted during the meeting, the city and council have been working under the notion that the state would not accept recreational marijuana business applications before December. But some acceleration on the state’s part and by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has moved the accepting of applications to as early as September.

To work on the framework in this new timeline, the city held the first reading of an ordinance to prohibit marijuana businesses from applying in the city until the end of the year, setting a “sunset clause” for Dec. 31. A second and final reading of the ordinance will be held at the July 1 meeting.

“(We) initially felt we were being proactive, and then the state moved things up three months on us, and now unfortunately we do have to be reactive, but we have to be reactive in a way that protects the city,” Terbrack said.

Terbrack said the ordinance is protecting the city from having businesses apply to operate in Berkley and having nothing in place in regard to rules and regulations. It also allows the city to do its due diligence and go through the process of working on the framework without worry.

“The state has been very aggressive,” he said. “As they have shown, they’ve moved up timelines here at least a few months. So in order for us to not be in a position where we have nothing in place … we are implementing a safeguard to make sure that we have adequate time to make sure that the city is protected and that we have our ordinances and rules and regulations and procedures that will be followed as we get to this point prior to Jan. 1 of 2020.”

City Attorney John Staran said the date was chosen arbitrarily, and the council can end the prohibition at any time leading up to the sunset date.

“It could be sooner than that, but that’s just to give us a little bit of breathing room,” he said. “Hopefully … our ordinance process will come together and dovetail nicely with the state, but since we’re working with a moving target with the state, I think this is the type of set of regulations that you want to do thoughtfully and very carefully and put in all due time and not just jump into something and fire it off just to meet, like I said, a moving deadline.”