Scottville City Commission to revisit recreational marijuana ordinance. 

September 21, 2021

Scottville City Commission to revisit recreational marijuana ordinance. 

By Rob Alway

Rob Alway is editor-in-chief and owner of Mason County Press. He is also an elected city commissioner/mayor pro-tem of the City of Scottville. He writes this column as a way to communicate with constituents as a commissioner.

It’s been a busy month in Scottville. We have several important issues in City Commission that we have been working on. The topic that most seem to be talking about right now is recreational marijuana. Local business owners Andrew and Samantha Schnitker, who own Plant Paradise, have been exploring opening a recreational marijuana dispensary. The Schnitkers, along with their business partners, have been communicating with the city government about the next steps. This has been and will be a lengthly process that must be done right. 

The first step is for the consideration of a repeal of City Ordinance 2019-02 which prohibits recreational marijuana establishments, as defined by the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, within the city limits. During Monday’s regular meeting of the City Commission, the commission voted to turn this consideration over to the city’s Ordinance Committee for further exploration. The Ordinance Committee consists of Mayor Marcy Spencer, Commissioner Nathan Yeomans and myself. Committees are advisory boards that are tasked with making recommendations to the City Commission. 

The Ordinance Committee typically meets the second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m. The Ordinance Committee is likely going to request that the parties interested in changing Scottville’s current recreational marijuana ordinance allowing recreational marijuana present a proposed ordinance. Once that proposed ordinance is drafted, the committee will review it and, if necessary, will add language that is to the benefit of the citizens and taxpayers of the City of Scottville. The committee will then decide if it is going to recommend the ordinance to the City Commission, which is likely. While the City Commission could vote on the ordinance, I personally am in favor of recommending that the ordinance be placed on the ballot and let the voters decide.

Just some background on City Ordinance 2019-02. In 2018, the voters of the state of Michigan passed a law allowing for the sale of recreational marijuana in the state. That law allowed for municipalities to “opt out” of allowing the sales in their respective municipalities. In 2019, the Scottville City Commission passed the ordinance prohibiting the sale of recreational marijuana. I voted in favor of this ordinance at the time. During discussion of the ordinance motion it was mentioned by a few of the commissioners that this ordinance was being passed at the time in an effort to observe the effectiveness of the state law and to wait and see if the state would impose any further changes to the current law. Two years have passed and it is good timing to review the ordinance again. This is common practice for the city’s Ordinance Committee to constantly review ordinances. 

The Schnitkers also requested that the Planning Commission — which makes recommendations to the City Commission, about land use topics such as zoning — consider recommending their business’ downtown location for the sale of recreational marijuana. This topic cannot be addressed until an ordinance is passed allowing for the sale of recreational marijuana in the city. One of the hurdles to this, however, is that the current state law, known as the Michigan Drug Free School Zone Law. 

According to the Drug Free School Zone Law, if you are over the age of 18 and you deliver a controlled substance or possess an illegal narcotic with the intent to deliver a controlled substance in a school zone, you could face additional jail time, fines, and other serious penalties. A school zone is defined as any place within 1,000 feet of school property (including buildings, fields, or other property), or a library. The Mason County District Library Scottville branch and the Scottville Area Senior Center (owned by Mason County Central Schools) both sit within this zone in comparison to downtown Scottville. Currently, marijuana is considered a controlled substance by the federal government. While the Michigan medical marijuana law is supposedly exempt from the Drug Free School Zone Law, the recreational marijuana law apparently is not. What this means is that even if Scottville allows for the sale of recreational marijuana, it may not be legal for the city to allow its sale in downtown Scottville, or pretty much two-thirds of the town.  

 

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