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Small Michigan City Declines to Ban Marijuana Shops

Grinded weed shaped as Michigan and a joint

Lowell, a small Michigan city with a population of around four thousand, has made a small move toward allowing recreational marijuana stores in its community. In a recent special meeting that took place in late November, the city council said that they would not opt out of adding marijuana businesses to their city.

That may sound like an uncertain or lukewarm response to the question. But it must be kept in mind that Lowell is located in West Michigan, an area that has historically had a negative attitude toward allowing commercial marijuana sales. During the Lowell special meeting, the members were considering an ordinance that would prohibit these shops from being established in Lowell. Agreeing to this ordinance would have put the city in line with the attitude dominates most of West Michigan. So, the fact that Lowell chose to decline the ordinance is an impressive move.

That’s not to say that the decision was unanimous among council members. In the long meeting, some members reported that there were impassioned arguments both for and against the marijuana shop ban. Michael Burns, the Lowell City Manager, went on to explain how polarized the meeting was, but is happy to report that nobody grew so uncivil to be “at each other’s throats.”
So, what’s the next move for Lowell? Burns said that the council’s new goal is to find out where they should place the marijuana shops. They will also need to figure out how many should be allowed and what type of zoning ordinances will be required.

For many pro-pot citizens, this is exciting news. But they shouldn’t get too excited just yet. Even though Lowell has taken a small step toward allowing commercial marijuana sales, these shops are not going to be established anytime soon. Just like the other cities in Michigan that plan to establish marijuana shops, Lowell will have to hold out until the state regulators can put together a framework for licensing the businesses. Until then, Michigan cities won’t be able to move forward with the plan.

The agency that would oversee these actions would be the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. They have until December of 2019 to develop the necessary rules before they can begin giving out licenses to potential shops. That said, the Michigan cities that are already planning to allow these shops won’t take long to get them established once the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs finishes developing their framework. And when that day comes, Lowell won’t be too far behind other Michigan cities.

Most of the citizens of Lowell voted in favor of Michigan’s Proposition 1, a proposal to allow recreational marijuana that was included on the November 6th ballot. Only 40% opposed it, and it has since become legal to possess, move, grow, and use certain quantities of marijuana.

It is not yet clear how many other Michigan communities plan to allow marijuana shops, but Burns believes Lowell is one of the smallest that have leaned toward opting in. Officials from Grand Rapids have announced that they are interested in permitting recreational marijuana, but Muskegon and Kalamazoo have not taken a clear stance. Still, Burns makes clear that his city Lowell by no means opted into medical marijuana, and the council hasn’t made any plans to discuss it further.

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