Bay City passes ordinance on recreational marijuana licenses

(Photo credit Wikimedia Commons)

By Michael Piwowarski, editor-in-chief.

BAY CITY – As Michigan residents will be able to purchase recreational marijuana starting Sunday, Dec. 1, Bay City has increased the limit of business licenses.

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced that existing businesses with medical licenses that are also pursuing recreational licenses may set aside up to half their inventory for recreational sales.

Medical marijuana is only available to customers who have a state-issued patient or caretaker card. On the other hand, recreational products are sold with a 10% excise tax, which is added to the 6% sales tax. Both must be kept separate on store shelves.

The Bay City board of commissioners voted Monday, Nov. 18 on an ordinance which doubles the amount of recreational licenses allowed within the city from 25 to 50, to match with the limit for medical licenses. The motion was passed 7 to 2.

City manager Dana Muscott says that, with the new recreational rules in place, Bay City can now start taking applications for recreational marijuana licenses.

However, there are restrictions in place, which are included in the ordinance. Licenses for marijuana event organizers, designated consumption establishments, excess marijuana growers and supplemental applicants are not being issued at this time.

Dave Pleitner, owner of Golden Harvests in Bay City, came to the meeting for the public hearing on the ordinance to speak against these restrictions.

“I own an 80,000 square foot building I’m trying to fully build out,” Pleitner said at the hearing. “By prohibiting the limits of my company to expand, it hinders my ability to create more jobs and create additional tax revenue for the city, and of course my electricity consumption.”

Pleitner went on to state that he plans on creating 100-150 jobs once his facility is fully built out. He argues that these restrictions hinder his ability to fully expand and compete with other companies in the state. He also contends that the restrictions will scare off big companies that want to move in to Bay City.

“If someone wants to go buy a 100,000 square foot building, and then they see this ordinance, […] they may question it, because if they can only build out 20,000 square feet, why would they come buying [a] 100,000 square foot building?” Pleitner argued.

Dana Muscott told the Collegiate that she initially brought forward these restrictions, but the city is open to making amendments to the ordinance as necessary.

“It’s something that I think is important to the city, to restrict those type of festivals and events at this point until we find out what the rules out of Lansing are, so that we’re on an even heel with the state on their laws for marijuana use,” says Muscott.

Commissioner Rashelle Hilliker was one of the board members who voted no on the ordinance, arguing that Bay City already had too high of a limit for business licenses at 25.

“I felt that it had a very generous offer of licenses in the city and I feel like there was too many licenses already,” says Hilliker.

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