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Portage, MI – Portage is proposing to extend its medical marijuana moratorium until the state comes up with licensing rules regulating dispensaries.

A Nov. 1 public hearing by the Portage City Council will determine if the city continues its current medical moratorium pending approval of state licensing rules on regulating medical marijuana edibles and dispensaries. The moratorium could last at least a year.

In September, the governor signed bills legalizing and regulating medical marijuana edibles and dispensaries. The law said that no medical marijuana commercial business can begin unless a municipality adopts a local ordinance allowing its use. It also said licensing rules must be established within 360 days after the Dec. 20, 2016 effective date of the act.

City Manager Larry Shafer said that while the city may want to have its own city ordinances regulating medical marijuana establishments, neither Portage nor any other municipality can enact any until the licensing rules are set.

Because of that, he has recommended that the city continue its temporary moratorium approved in May and set to expire Nov. 10 until the state works out those regulations.

During the current moratorium city officials have been crafting a draft ordinance that deals with medical marijuana dispensaries, or provision centers, and also cultivating medical marijuana.

The draft ordinance, he said, “limits where they (dispensaries) can be in a certain zoning district and then will limit the total number of dispensaries,” both provided under the new state law.

Key provisions of the law include establishing five license types, for a grower, processor, dispensary, transporter, and testing lab; cultivation licenses for various number of plants; allowing licensing fees for a business; requiring local governments to adopt ordinances permitting medical marijuana companies and establishing their own licensing fees up to $5,000; and legalizing edibles and extracts for the first time.

There is no statewide limit on business permits that can be given, but local governments can enact caps, according to the new law.

In May, more than 100 people appeared at the Portage City Council public hearing, many of them wanting the two medical marijuana provision centers on Portage Road and Sprinkle Road to remain open because they provide an essential medication.

The council voted 6-0 for the moratorium but deadlocked 3-3 on allowing the two dispensaries. Portage Mayor Peter Strazdas, as he did at the April meeting, excused himself from voting or participating in the discussion because he has a family member who is employed at one of the businesses.

Portage in 2011 OK’d a medical marijuana ordinance that restricts a patient-caregiver exchange to a home occupation rather than a separate business. The current moratorium and the proposed extension do not affect that ordinance.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Portage Sets Hearing On Extending Temporary Medical Marijuana Moratorium
Author: Tom Haroldson
Contact: MLive
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Website: MLive