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Houghton to consider marijuana ordinances

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton will consider two marijuana ordinances in March – a new ordinance regarding adult-use businesses and another modifying the existing medical marijuana ordinance. A separate council vote would be needed later to allow adult-use recreational marijuana sales.

HOUGHTON — Houghton will hold public hearings next month on two marijuana ordinances.

A new ordinance would add zoning regulations regarding adult-use recreational marijuana retailers, as well as modify the regulations for medical marijuana businesses.

The marijuana retail ordinance would impose similar restrictions on location to that of medical marijuana. It would also allow no more than one recreational marijuana retailer in the city at any time.

The ordinance also spells out the licensing process for a retailer.

The ordinance for medical marijuana would be amended to state that provisioning centers, medical marijuana nurseries or medical marijuana nurseries can be in the same retail space as a recreational marijuana retailer. Medical and recreational products would need to be separated and clearly labeled to avoid confusion. Only people 21 or older would be allowed on site.

The ordinances provide a regulatory framework for any future recreational marijuana businesses, City Manager Eric Waara said. But allowing the sales still requires a separate council decision.

Michigan legalized recreational marijuana in 2018. Last year, the city council voted to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana sales because of uncertainty regarding state regulations.

The council will decide when or if to revisit allowing recreational marijuana sales, Waara said.

Waara paraphrased the city attorney’s advice: “Don’t be in a hurry, because there’s a lot of other people. Let them make mistakes before you make mistakes that are going to cost you money.”

After the Houghton Planning Commission voted to send the ordinances to the council in January, Northern Specialty Health co-owner Penny Milkey said she was pleased with the progress the commission had made. She said the business hopes to expand into offering recreational marijuana.

“We are hopeful the city council will move the ordinance along and we are planning for adult-use marijuana sales in April,” she said. “..We are grateful to the city for all of the support in both the medical and adult-use marijuana licensing processes.”

The hearing is scheduled for the City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. March 11.

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