On Jan. 1, The Herald-Palladium published a story about where communities in Southwest Michigan stood on medical and recreational marijuana facilities.
A lot has changed since then.
Almost all of those communities have now opted out of allowing recreational marijuana facilities, though at least two – Buchanan and Bangor – are drafting ordinances to allow them.
This week, Niles became the first municipality in Berrien County to allow recreational marijuana facilities.
The Niles City Commission voted Monday to approve an ordinance that allows for up to eight businesses where marijuana products could be sold to adults, and up to three licensed establishments where adults could use marijuana, according to news reports. Other types of businesses include growers, processors, lab testers and transporters.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, South Haven voters will consider a citizen-initiated ordinance on the November ballot to not allow recreational cannabis facilities. The South Haven City Council decided to let the citizens decide the issue, after it was pressured by a grassroots group.
Last November South Haven voters favored (by about 100 votes) Proposal 1, which legalized recreational marijuana use in Michigan.
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Marijuana Regulatory Agency released 64 pages of emergency rules for recreational marijuana on July 3, which will remain in effect until Jan. 3.
The law requires that the state begin accepting applications for marijuana establishments 12 months after the effective date of the act, meaning applications must be accepted by Dec. 6 of this year.
LARA will start taking applications Nov. 1, with the first applications expected to be approved by Dec. 6.
Already-licensed medical marijuana facilities will be the first allowed to apply for recreational marijuana licensing, then at a later date, LARA will start accepting applications for new recreational marijuana facilities.
The medical marijuana provisioning centers that are licensed to sell recreationally will sell medical marijuana on one side of the store and recreational on the other side.
The number of municipalities in Southwest Michigan allowing medical marijuana facilities has increased to 10.
Watervliet Township was one of those communities, and is now vetting five applications for dispensaries. The township’s ordinance allows for up to four.
Township Clerk Patt Bambridge said the township has held public hearings for special land use permits on four of the applications. The next step is for the township board to vote to approve or deny them at its next meeting.
NoBo Michigan broke ground in July as the first medical marijuana facility in Benton Harbor, which will serve as the company’s Midwest headquarters.
Bill Stohler, director of NoBo Michigan, said this week that one way or another, they will have the facility open in April 2020.
“As of now, we just need to get some paperwork stuff sorted out,” he said. “We’re excited and anxious to get the project moving, hire some people and get open.”
NoBo Michigan has plans for the growing facility, a processing center and a provisioning center in Benton Harbor.
Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman