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Marijuana update

Marquette Township Board makes progress on draft ordinance language

MARQUETTE — Members of the Marquette Township Board learned Tuesday that the township planning commission is making progress on a draft of a proposed ordinance permitting marijuana establishments within its boundaries.

Marquette Township Trustee David Wiegand, who also serves on the township planning commission, said the process is moving forward, and he expects the draft ordinance to be complete in about 60 days.

“Just to let the public know, the planning commission is working on this. We’ve got a draft copy of the definitions complete,” Wiegand said. “We did a first draft of article 15, which is the zoning regulations, where they can be located in the township. And I think we will be looking at another draft copy of that at the next planning commission meeting. And right after that, we will get into article 16 which is the detailed use regulations, which covers location in reference to churches and schools and that type of stuff, but I think after that it’s just about ready to be presented to the public.”

Once the planning commission has approved the proposed ordinance language, the amendments would be subject to two readings during two separate meetings along with a public hearing on the matter before a decision is made on adopting them.

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Director of Cannabis Development Gary Loonsfoot, Jr. spoke during public comment at Tuesday’s meeting to update the board on the tribe’s efforts to obtain state licenses to operate marijuana businesses and inquire about the township’s progress in its ordinance process.

“We ran into some bureaucracy down in Lansing, so we are just getting that all straightened out,” Loonsfoot told the board. “I just wanted to make sure that the township was still going through with the development of policies and procedures and we would like to just extend our hand out … (Many of) the surrounding communities are moving forward with this in some way shape or form. I would just like to say that we would like to see the medicinal side of this move forward, not just the recreational side or the adult use. A lot of people consider this a medicine and we would like to keep that going as well.”

Last March, board members unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance which “prohibits all marijuana establishments” as defined by the voter-approved Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act.

KBIC officials made a presentation during a board meeting in May, requesting that members consider allowing a medical marijuana dispensary in the tribal-owned gas station property along the U.S. 41 corridor.

The board then voted during its June 18 meeting to direct township staff and the planning commission to start the process of researching and amending current zoning ordinances to accommodate medical and recreational marijuana businesses in the township.

Township officials previously asserted that planning commission efforts to research and draft a proposed marijuana ordinance is not tied in any way to the KBIC or its efforts to start a marijuana business, according to the June 7 edition of The Mining Journal.

“No offense to KBIC, but this has nothing to do with you. This board has got no business looking at what you guys want and crafting something to make your lives easier,” Wiegand said in June. “We need to decide to either opt in or opt out and explore it. And if the people voted it in, we are representing the residents of this township and the way I look at it to say, ‘Yeah they voted it in, but they really don’t know what they are talking about. We are going to go ahead and opt out anyway.’ We don’t have that right. We should be representing the residents.”

The Marquette Township Planning Commission will meet again at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Marquette Township Community Center.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.

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