Conversation on recreational marijuana businesses continues in Berkley

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 9, 2019


BERKLEY — In an April 1 work session discussion, the Berkley City Council decided to continue its ongoing conversation to potentially allow marijuana businesses into town.

At the conclusion of the work session, the majority of the council wanted to continue the conversation about allowing marijuana businesses in Berkley as it relates to both recreational and medical businesses.

“The moral of the story, at this point, seems to be that council will be continuing this conversation as it relates to the next step, which I would think would be types of businesses that would be allowed here, coming up with zoning if we are going to move forward with either recreational or medical, (and) competitive process for these applications,” Mayor Dan Terbrack said.

The council directed staff to focus on gathering information as it relates to the retail and dispensary businesses for recreational and medical marijuana. City Attorney John Staran and City Manager Matthew Baumgarten also were asked to look at processes for developing a local regulatory framework for possibly allowing these businesses and return to the council with those possible routes.

Terbrack felt hesitant on allowing recreational marijuana businesses for the same reason he was against medical marijuana in Berkley when it was voted on, which is because he believes there are too many unanswered questions.

But now that medical marijuana infrastructure seems to be in place, in terms of the regulations, how they work and are policed, Terbrack said he would like to continue the conversation as it relates to medical marijuana in Berkley.

“The reason that I’m not hopping in with both feet on recreational is for what I just said: I just don’t know what is going to happen with the regulations,” he said.

Councilwoman Eileen Steadman said marijuana isn’t something to be looked at in the vein of alcohol, as marijuana is shown to have medicinal benefits that alcohol does not.

“I don’t consider (marijuana) an evil thing,” she said. “This is not the 1960s anymore. It’s not a hippie drug anymore. It is something that the entire country is beginning to realize is something that medically, as needed, recreationally is probably way safer than alcohol. I think we should really consider the stores.”

The results of a community survey, conducted online and at a town hall mmeting, also were brought up. The survey declared that the majority of residents, a little more than 62 percent and 1,010 votes, favored allowing recreational marijuana businesses to operate in Berkley. Other questions declared that a retail business was the most requested, that 11 Mile Road should be where a recreational marijuana business be located, and that the number of businesses allowed in Berkley should be limited to at most three.

Resident Marty Monte said he is not a supporter of the idea of legalizing marijuana, and worries about how people might try to use the new law to grow marijuana in their homes and sell it at a discounted rate.

“The black market (selling of marijuana) that … could end up hanging around Berkley is something I’m not interested in,” he said.

Another resident, Kurt Hite, said people who legitimately use medical mariuajana don’t buy it from a guy on the corner — they get it from a store. While he said he doesn’t use marijuana medically or recreationally now, Hite feels that if a time comes where something happens and he feels like he needs marijuana, he doesn’t want to have to go to Detroit to get it.

“Right now, (people are) not able to do that anywhere locally,” he said. “They’re having to go down into Detroit or whatever. They’re not just able to go to whoever’s growing it in their house. I really think that should be the biggest part of the equation, is making sure that the people who need it medically are able to get it.”