Split decision

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Benton Township trustees are in the process of opting into a state law to allow medical marijuana facilities in the township.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, trustees held a first reading of several ordinances, which included one that that would allow certain medical marijuana facilities.

“We feel this is a nationwide shift, and we feel comfortable moving forward with this based how the majority of voters in the township were in favor of Prop 1,” Superintendent Kelli Smith said.

Proposal 1 allows for the use of recreational marijuana. More than 64 percent of township voters were in favor of the proposal.

Trustees will hold a second reading of the ordinance, and can vote to approve the ordinance at the July 2 board meeting.

The board also held its first reading of an ordinance to opt out of the recently approved recreational marijuana law.

Michigan’s recreational marijuana law requires action by municipalities that don’t want retail marijuana businesses in their jurisdiction. 

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has yet to implement the new licensing program, and has until the end of 2019 to establish the permit process.

While the recreational marijuana law requires municipalities to opt out if they don’t want the businesses, the medical marijuana law allows municipalities to opt out by doing nothing.

“We felt there was a need to opt out of the recreational marijuana facility ordinance until more information has come down from the state of Michigan,” Smith said. “This is really just a placeholder to protect the township; we just have the option of revisiting this once (the state) releases more details.”

If the medical marijuana ordinance is approved following its second reading next month, the township can begin accepting applications for medical marijuana facilities by Oct. 1 at the earliest.

The deadline could be pushed back to Jan. 1, if the township needs more time to formalize the application process.

The initial application fee would be $5,000, with a recurring fee of another $5,000 each year.

Some of the specifics of the ordinance include:

• Up to 10 total growers of any class.

• Up to 10 processors.

• Growers shall be located in industrial zones, through special use only.

• Processors shall be located in industrial zones, through special use only.

Smith said there are no plans to hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinances, or to create a survey, due to the amount of support Proposal 1 received from registered township voters last November.

Trustees previously discussed the marijuana-related ordinances at a board workshop earlier this month.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. July 2 at Benton Township Hall.

Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski