TRAVERSE CITY — Marijuana entrepreneurs looking to expand into recreational sales, testing or other businesses want Traverse City to take action on some long-gestating rules.
Planning and city commissioners still are working on it.
Brian McGillivary, a member of both who served on an ad hoc committee that drafted the ordinance, said that ad hoc wants to know if city rules for where recreational marijuana businesses can locate should mirror what’s already in place for medical cannabis. That includes whether they can co-locate with medical marijuana dispensaries in the city’s hospital-zoned districts.
Planners seemed to favor disallowing any sales. At issue is state law already preempting local governments from banning recreational cannabis sellers from co-locating with established medical cannabis dispensaries, city Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht said.
City Planner Russ Soyring said hospital districts typically are set aside for uses that serve as accessories to hospitals and doctor’s offices. There are no dispensaries there as of now.
Hospital district rules already ban any uses that don’t have anything to do with medical uses, commissioner Heather Shaw said.
“I don’t think it even makes any sense to have (recreational retail) there, and if it means we remove medical marijuana from those districts then I would go along with that,” she said.
Planning commissioners had several reasons for allowing medical marijuana provisioning centers in hospital districts, including their being similar to pharmacies, which are allowed, Soyring said.
Planners discussed several other uses as well, like microbusinesses. They can grow up to 150 plants, process them and sell products like edibles, Commissioner Jim Tuller said.
He had no problem with them being in industrial districts, but Commissioner Anna Dituri suggested spacing requirements and Commissioner Tyler Bevier agreed, citing some industrial zones that are near residential neighborhoods.
Planners also seemed to favor allowing marijuana event planning as a home business, although McGillivary noted the ad hoc isn’t recommending allowing cannabis-centered events in Traverse City.
A woman who only identified herself as Jodie and said she manages a medical mari- juana retailer said the busin- ess is threatened if it can’t transition to recreational marijuana, which likely will dominate the market over medical sales.
She asked that existing medical retailers be given preference when awarding licenses — other owners previously asked to skip the city’s proposed merit-based licensing system for recreational retail, but Trible-Laucht said state law requires a merit-based process.
City commissioners disallowed recreational cannabis businesses in December 2018, recently extending that through Dec. 31 so there’s time to finish local regulations, as previously reported.
McGillivary said he’ll ask city commissioners on June 1 to allow certain types of businesses, like testing and transport. He explained in a letter that an existing testing facility would likely be harmed by any further delay — city commissioners originally planned to put off action on recreational cannabis rules until August.
Allowing testing would be welcome for George Powell of Cambium Analytica, a testing lab in Traverse City. He previously told city commissioners the business is being hamstrung by its inability to test recreational cannabis.
“If the city continues to delay and continues to wait and continues to wait on more information the quicker we are to sacrificing those jobs, sacrificing us proving our business’s ability to be a keystone of the community,” he said.