Commission to consider banning marijuana establishments in Marquette

By JAYMIE DEPEW

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Commission will determine Monday whether or not to schedule a public hearing for Feb. 25 to adopt an ordinance prohibiting recreational marijuana establishments in city limits.

Michigan became the first state in the Midwest and 10th in the country to legalize the use and possession of recreational marijuana to anyone 21 and older after voters approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act in November. Sixty-two percent of Marquette residents voted in favor of the act.

The legislation also authorizes the right of each municipality to determine whether to allow or prohibit marijuana establishments within its region.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, is responsible for establishing a bureau that handles recreational marijuana regulations and licenses by 2020. However, the responsibilities will fall on individual municipalities if LARA is unsuccessful in the process.

Many municipalities have chosen to tentatively opt out of allowing commercial marijuana establishments in their region and wait until LARA comes up with a plan.

According to city documents, administration is recommending this same approach for the city of Marquette at this time. The proposed ordinance would provide some short-term stability and give the city the time necessary to establish local procedures consistent with the desires of the commission, the documents claim.

The commission held a work session last month to discuss the new act and how the city would be impacted if they decided to opt-in. Around 20 people attended the meeting, several speaking in favor of having marijuana retail stores in the area.

At the work session, City Manager Mike Angeli said he would be most comfortable if the city waited for the state to establish a plan. Several commissioners recommended that the city research all possible options, including what it would take to create their own set of rules. Mayor Fred Stonehouse said he has “no doubt” that the city will allow commercial establishments at some point in the future.

The city commission will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the commission chambers at Marquette City Hall, 300 W. Baraga Ave.

The commission will also hold a public hearing to determine whether or not to approve its Land Development Code project. The LDC was created to modernize the city’s land-use codes; reduce the overall complexity for the current land-use ordinances, such as zoning, subdivision, sign fence and form codes; to reduce the number of variance cases caused by outdated lot size, setback and accessory building standards; updating zoning districts; and more.

A draft of the LDC project and the commission’s agenda can be found on the city’s website at www.marquettemi.gov.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.

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