GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Haven is considering allowing medical marijuana provisioning centers within the city limits.
The city says when Michigan voters legalized medicinal marijuana in 2008, they decided they would not explore the option. But since the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2018, they’ve decided to reopen the conversation. City Council has been discussing the issue for more than a year and plan to continue the conversation at Monday night’s meeting.
“Several advocates came forward who rely on medical marijuana to help them or a family member with various physical ailments,” said City Manager Patrick McGinnis. “They came and said we’d really like you guys to consider (a medical marijuana ordinance.) At the time, I believe the nearest medical provisioning center was far away, about an hour away.”
McGinnis says while council has not expressed any interest in recreational marijuana, council members have kept citizens’ complaints, needs and concerns at the forefront of this discussion. He says there are strong opinions on both sides.
Some taxpayers like Chloe Near say they’re all for the introduction of medical marijuana sales.
“As long as it’s controlled and it’s being taxed, I think it could be a good thing,” Near said. “People are going to do it. So, you might as well do it in a way where we can benefit from it and grow our city.”
Other citizens believe it could be potentially dangerous for the community if people use the substance irresponsibly.
“I just don’t think we need to be adding more (substances) out there for young people to have,” Gene Kiel said.
City leaders say while growing and processing operations are allowed in their manufacturing districts, provisioning centers are not. At Monday’s meeting, the city plans to focus on designating areas where provisioning centers could be built.
Federal laws prohibit the centers from being within 1,000 feet of schools or libraries. Some taxpayers tell City Council they’re concerned about other locations too.
“They’ve been receiving significant feedback from community members suggesting there could be some other types of uses they may want to consider buffering like churches, parks and playgrounds, substance abuse treatment facilities,” McGinnis said.
Grand Haven is the second city in Ottawa County to open the floor for this discussion. The only other provisioning center is in Crockery Township in Nunica.
Other cities like Holland and Zeeland chose to opt out of medical marijuana and say they have no current plans to change that.
McGinnis says depending on how council proceeds, the city could begin taking applications for the first provisioning center by spring.
The City Council meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. You can find a livestream version on Facebook.