MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI — The Muskegon Heights City Council voted in September to allow medical marijuana grow operations in the city, but just how they will be monitored remains up for debate.
Council members met on Monday during a special meeting to discuss the first draft of a medical marijuana ordinance proposed by City Manager Jake Eckholm and city staff.
The subsequent three-hour debate prompted several changes to the proposed ordinance, which will be amended and reintroduced for discussion at an upcoming city council meeting.
The changes would:
Limit operations to 14 licenses for growers and processors. Limit growers to Class C licenses, which would allow a maximum of 1,500 plants. Allow growers to stack licenses to increase plant capacity after a year in operation. Limit sales to other growers, processors and secure transporters. Ban dispensaries, provisioning centers and direct public sales. Build a framework for monitoring and inspecting facilities with the aid of Muskegon Heights public safety officers. Limit former council members from growing medical marijuana within city limits to avoid potential kickbacks and corruption.
At Monday’s meeting, several council members expressed concerns about limiting licenses and plant capacity for growers, the dangers of allowing “pot monopolies,” the possibility for more crime and the overall image of Muskegon Heights.
Michigan’s Licensing and Regulatory Affairs department issued a new set of rules earlier this year that allow municipalities to regulate medical marijuana on their own terms.
Council member Walter Watt, who was elected in November, led the charge to change several aspects of the ordinance, specifically language that would set up a separate pot commission to approve and monitor licensees.
The draft ordinance calls for the creation of a regulatory commission separate from the Muskegon Heights City Council. The commission would have included Eckholm, several members of city staff, the