Starting in November, the state of Michigan will begin accepting license applications for recreational marijuana businesses. However, don’t expect to start seeing these businesses open up for some time. WKAR’s government and politics reporter Abigail Censky spoke to Lansing State Journal reporter Sarah Lehr about new marijuana legislation approved by the Lansing City Council.
Still Some Time To Wait
“I wouldn't hold your breath for legal recreational pot shops to open up anytime soon. It could take quite a while before the clerk issues the first licenses to these new businesses.”
Although voters passed Proposition 18-1 last year in the midterm elections, recreational marijuana is still a while away from being sold in Lansing. Lansing has had medical marijuana legislation in place for years but has only recently been approaching finalized legislation to allow Prop 18-1 to take full effect.
Majority of Lansing Favored Legalizing Weed
“Lansing voters overwhelmingly favor legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. 71 percent of city voters voted in November to legalize the drug. Although that doesn't necessarily tell you how they feel about the businesses in their city.”
Recently, the Lansing city council passed an amendment to an ordinance passed in 2017 to allow up to 28 retailers or dispensaries in the city limits instead of 25. In addition, there will be four microbusinesses and four social clubs allowed to operate in the city, one in each ward.
New Ways To Buy
“Retailers are places where people 21 and over can buy recreational marijuana and dispensaries are places where people with medical marijuana cards can buy marijuana if they're considered a patient.”
With the new age of legalized cannabis for recreational use, there are also some new ways to purchase and consume the drug. Micro businesses are one of the new types of retailers that were added through the amendment. These are places where someone could grow up to 150 marijuana plants, process that plant, and then sell it to customers on-site. Another new category of business is called a social club. That's where people 21 and over can gather to use marijuana. These social clubs are inherently BYOP (Bring your own pot) but can sell to patrons if they are approved for a retailer license.
Legal Issues Remain
”Councilmember Kathy Dunbar wanted to include provisions that she described as fostering social equity. They would have given preference to Lansing residents in licensing as well as people who have prior marijuana convictions.”
According to LSJ reporting, the City of Lansing has been sued at least 15 times over cannabis licensing. Most are from rejected applicants. Kathy Dunbar, one of the two council members who opposed the recently passed amendment, wanted to give more opportunities to people who have marijuana convictions as well as local entrepreneurs interested in joining this new market. However, “the city attorney advised counsel against adopting Dunbar's proposal, in particular, he said, giving preference to people with marijuana convictions, opens the city up to lawsuits” Lehr stated. “So he's worried about a rejected applicant suing the city saying this preference was arbitrary and capricious.”
Follow Abigail on Twitter: @AbigailCensky