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  • Kevin Elliott

Rochester Hills prohibits sales of marijuana

Rochester Hills City Council on Monday, December 3, finalized an ordinance to prohibit marijuana businesses from being established in the community that would otherwise be permitted under new state law.

"Michigan voters approved what is known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, which will go into effect on Thursday, (December 6)," said Rochester Hills Attorney John Staran. "Among the provisions is one that expressly authorizes municipalities to opt out, or prohibit to a lesser degree, marijuana establishments in the city."

Staran said the opt-out clause won't apply to other parts of the law, which permits people to possess, consume or grow marijuana in their private residences.

Council voted unanimously to approve the second reading and adoption of the opt-out ordinance, which was first introduced on Monday, November 12.

Under the new law, the municipal decision to limit the number of marijuana establishments or opt out is subject to override by the voters of that municipality through initiative petition, according to an analysis of law by the Michigan Municipal League (MML).

The law also allows municipalities to completely prohibit all state-issued licenses for marijuana businesses in its community, or may allow all types of licenses with a limit on the total number of each type of license. It may not pick and choose what license types it authorizes, according to the MML. If a municipal limit on licenses prevents the state from issuing a license to all qualifying applicants, the municipality, not the state, is required to select from the competing applicants using a competitive process intended to identify those who are best suited to operate in compliance with the act.

Under the ordinance approved on Monday, all marijuana establishments are prohibited in the city.

No requests to speak from the public were made prior to council approving the ordinance. Council in November discussed whether the issue could be revisited at a later time.

"I want to study the issue and make the best decision. I fear we could lose out on some economic benefits," councilwoman Jenny McCardell said at the November 12 meeting.

Staran at that time said adoption of the ordinance would allow the city to study the issue and determine if, and to what extent, it may want to decide in the future to allow marijuana establishments.

While the law went into effect on Thursday, December 6, rules and marijuana-related business licenses under the new act aren't expected to be issued by the state until 2020.

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