Houghton medical pot dispensary will stay open for now

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton Councilman Philip Foltz, left talks as Councilman John Sullivan looks on during a discussion of medical marijuana Wednesday. The council voted to provide paperwork allowing the dispensary in the city to continue operations pending the city’s vote on an ordinance. Sullivan voted against it.

HOUGHTON — In a move to comply with the state’s new medical marijuana ordinance, the Houghton City Council approved allowing the lone existing dispensary in the city to operate while the city works on an ordinance that will be in compliance with the new law.

The state’s Medical Marijuana Facility Licensing Act requires the facility to be licensed through the state.

To facilitate that, the city must provide a form attesting that the facility had been operating legally under a city ordinance, the city authorizes its continued operation and the city is planning to draft and consider a new ordinance compliant with the law.

“Pending the adoption doesn’t necessary mean that the ordinance is going to be passed,” said City Manager Eric Waara. “Essentially, pending something that may not be passed is just kicking the can down the road.”

By a 5-1 vote on Wednesday, the council authorized Clerk Ann Vollrath to sign the form.

Councilman John Sullivan voted against the measure.

Had the council not authorized Vollrath to sign the form, the dispensary would have shut down whenever the state required due to lack of a license.

The city has yet to decide on whether to opt-in to the new law, do nothing, or opt-out, which would prohibit medical marijuana facilities within the city.

The council is required to make a decision by Feb. 15.

TOMORROW: The Houghton City Council pushes back against a recent measure by the federal government, which has taken a harder line against marijuana use.