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From our State Capitol in Lansing to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, WKAR is committed to explaining how the actions of lawmakers are affecting Michiganders. Political and government reporter Abigail Censky leads this section. There are also stories from Capitol correspondents Cheyna Roth, Rick Pluta and the Associated Press. As the 2020 presidential race begins, look here for reports on the role Michigan will play in electing or re-electing the president.

Lansing City Council Will Consider New Rules For Recreational Marijuana

WKAR Special Report: Marijuana in Michigan
Lansing City Council will consider new rules to govern recreational marijuana in the city at a meeting next week.

The city of Lansing will be making the rules that govern recreational marijuana by modifying their rules on medical marijuana. Lansing State Journal reporter Sarah Lehr reports on city council and she joined WKAR’s Abigail Censky in the studio to discuss the potential changes. Below are highlights of their conversation.

Interview Highlights

Not Reinventing The Wheel

“There will still be regulations in place for medical marijuana businesses. Right now, the city would allow up to 25 medical marijuana dispensaries, which are the businesses that sell medical marijuana to patients. With these new rules, there would be up to 28 of the businesses that sell marijuana. A single business could be licensed to sell both for medical use and for recreational use.”

The proposed modifications would also cap the number of facilities able to grow marijuana at 55 growers. Of the 28 facilities that sell marijuana recreationally or medically, there will be several different business models including: micro businesses (akin to microbreweries), designated consumption centers and the usually provisioning centers or retailers.

Like A Microwbrewery, But For Pot

"There's something called a micro business, which sort of analogous to the concept of a microbrewery for beer. This is a small-scale business where they could grow up to 150 marijuana plants on site, they could process that product, and then they could sell it to customers right there. There's also something called a designated consumption establishment, which is a very buttoned up term for what I think of as sort of a pot social club. This is a place where if you're over 21, you could consume on site."

If that business has a separate license to be a retailer, they could actually sell to people there. So, it's more similar to a bar but for weed…it's basically bring your own pot, BYOP, and people over 21 bring their own product, and they just consume it on site.

Does Lansing Have A Cannabis Culture?

"Well, I will say when Lansing first opened up its licensing process for medical marijuana more than 80 business owners applied for that limited number of licenses. So, the demand from the business side was huge. The other thing I will say is that a lot of other communities in Mid-Michigan are either banning marijuana businesses or are much more restrictive. So, I think people are coming from outside Lansing to go to these places. So, I would say demand is pretty high. I mean, the question city council talks about wanting to provide access, while also not overwhelming other types of businesses while not having Lansing be known only for marijuana. So that's what they're trying to balance."

Goodbye To The Appeals Board

"Well, the licensing process in the city for medical marijuana has been really contentious and the city has been sued more than a dozen times by people who find the ordinance too restrictive or who have been denied a license Initially, the reason that city council members say that they are getting rid of the citizen appointed appeals board, which is that there's been complaints about how long it's taken for people to get medical marijuana business licenses. If someone is denied a license that will still be able to appeal to the city clerk. But that step after that before this, that meets in public and reviews, the applications would be eliminated."

City Council will meet to discuss these proposed changes at 5:30pm. Monday September 23rd at City Hall. There will be a public comment period at that meeting. And, the council will vote on the ordinance at a subsequent meeting September 30th.

You can find more of Sarah’s reporting on City Council, here.

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahGLehr

Follow Abigail on Twitter: @AbigailCensky

Abigail Censky reported on Politics & Government at WKAR from 2018 to 2021. Now, she reports for The Colorado Springs Gazette and edits for The Catalyst Newspaper.
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