TRAVERSE CITY — Adult-use marijuana sellers and other entrepreneurs might have to wait six months longer before applying for a license in Traverse City.

City Commissioners on Monday will consider whether to extend a previous decision to opt out of allowing those businesses. That resolution had a built-in sunset clause that would undo it on Dec. 6, but an ad hoc committee working on rules for the businesses needs more time.

The city still intends to opt in once its own rules are done, Commissioner Brian McGillivary said. He chairs the subcommittee working on those rules, and said they’re coming along despite changes from the state creating a “moving target.”

“If the opt-out is not extended, then we are automatically in and anyone can put in an application and we have to consider it and literally grant it, because the state has made clear, if you have not opted out, they are going to grant licenses for those communities,” he said.

Commissioners will weigh whether to introduce the extended sunset date for a decision at their Dec. 16 meeting, documents show. The new sunset would be May 6, 2020, if they approve it — they would have the option of repealing it sooner.

Ad hoc committee members are set to keep working on a draft Thursday that so far allows unlimited growers, processors, secure transporters and safety compliance facilities. The draft would not allow designated consumption establishments, marijuana event organizers or temporary marijuana events.

The draft ordinance also lays out an application process that requires comprehensive business plans among lots of other information from applicants.

Still left undecided is how many retail establishments and microbusinesses the city would allow, meeting documents show. Ad hoc committee members will discuss this, along with how to handle duplicative applications as they move ahead.

Duplicative applications were a point of contention for medical marijuana dispensaries. Some applicants balked over the city allowing more than one application per address, arguing that this opened up the city’s lottery to award dispensary permits to being gamed.

McGillivary said the process for granting adult use sales licenses will be different — state law requires the process to be merit-based rather than by lottery. But he’s still leaning toward not allowing any duplication, he said. That would mean one application per applicant, and one per address.

“I just think it’s too complicated to go any other way,” he said, adding the issue is still up for debate.

Commissioner Roger Putman said he wants to hear from ad hoc committee members. He thinks if an extension is what they need to get the ordinance done and get it right, then he’s for it.

“Of course, I’ll be anxious to see what ultimately comes out of the ad hoc, but I’d be guessing right now on what that might be,” he said.

Michigan voters in November 2018 approved legalizing marijuana use by anyone 21 and older. They can carry up to 2.5 ounces and keep 10 more at home.

It has taken a year for legal sales to start, with the state adopting emergency rules in June and issuing its first retail license Nov. 19. That went to a store in Ann Arbor, the owner of which planned to start selling Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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