[The Green Mile] Light up! Bay City welcomes recreational marijuana

By Michael Piwowarski, editor-in-chief.

BAY CITY – As Michigan residents are now able to purchase recreational marijuana as of Sunday, Dec. 1, Bay City has established its ordinance just weeks ahead, in an effort to catch up with Ann Arbor.

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.

As stated in the amendment, the city’s reason for increasing the limit of recreational licenses is to allow already-existing medical dispensaries the opportunity to sell some of their products on the recreational side, should they choose to do so.

Green Peak Innovations, the owners of Skymint on Euclid Ave, previously told the Collegiate that they have already applied to the state for a recreational license, as they seek to enter the recreational market.

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

Puff Cannabis Company, a medical dispensary located on Marquette Avenue, told the Collegiate that they already have their recreational license, but were unsure when they will be able to start selling recreational products.

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. Use of marijuana is also prohibited in public spaces owned and occupied by the city.

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.

However, others felt that the ordinance is a little too generous. 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.

In spite of the restrictions, Bay City remains the only one of the tri-cities that has opted in to allowing recreational marijuana.

The Saginaw City Council voted in July to ban recreational marijuana for a one-year “sunset provision” in order to develop a better understanding of the state rules. Midland has also opted out.

In addition, neither Saginaw nor Midland have any medical dispensaries in operation. There are currently eight listed in Bay City according to potguide.com.

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