By David Fleet
.- On Monday night the board of trustees discussed a tentative proposal for a commercial medical marijuana growing and processing facility in the township.
Kirsch Leach, of Birmingham-based KL Attorneys, provided some background along with a potential area in the township his client would like to be considered for a 20-30,000 square foot facility to grow and process marijuana for medical purposes. The location of the facility was not disclosed; however, he did indicate the property is currently zoned industrial and away from the new recreation park on Dixie Highway which is set to open in 2018.
Townships and other municipalities statewide can now consider medical marijuana facilities in their communities after Gov. Snyder signed several bills into law last year that established a regulation format similar to the process of the liquor industry.
Each municipality can dictate whether they will allow for commercial medical marijuana facilities, the number of facilities within its borders and the number of plants each facility is allowed to grow.
A Class A license limits marijuana plants to a maximum 500 plants in each facility. With a Class B license, a grower can possess up to 1,000 plants, and with a Class C, farm up to 1,500 marijuana plants.
“Marijuana is moving out of the criminal context and into a state regulated business,” said Leach. “It’s a business opportunity. These types of businesses are very professionally run. They will go at great lengths and utilize a lot of technology to not be a nuisance. They would be willing to dress it up and could employ anywhere from 20-30 people.”
In addition to 6 percent sales tax, there will also be a 3 percent marijuana excise tax paid by the license holder. The revenues from the tax will be divided with 25 percent to the municipality; 30 percent to the county; 30 percent to the state; and 15 percent to law enforcement. For the township that would be the Michigan State Police, since there is no contract with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
There’s also an $8.5 million assessment built in to the growers so the state of Michigan can train special agents to enforce the rules. In addition, the municipality can charge up to $5,000 for a commercial marijuana license.
Leach projected that $20 million per year in total marijuana sales with a 3 percent excise tax would generate $600,000. Of that the township would get 25 percent or $150,000 on one grow license. He added that all marijuana is to be tracked, all inventory, from seed to sale, with systems that allow for real time updates to the state. All marijuana is to also be tested for safety.
The marijuana issue was discussed by the township planning commission earlier this year, but no recommend was made at that time.
Bob DePalma, township supervisor, questioned the location of the possible marijuana facility and security for the community.
“We are dictated by the state police,” said DePalma. “One hundred and fifty thousand dollars will not buy a police department. A contract with the Oakland County Sheriff will cost $600,000.”
Municipalities and townships statewide are preparing to go commercial as the state will accept commercial marijuana licenses until Dec. 15, 2017.
DePalma requested a financial perspective on how Leach came up with the dollar amounts. That information will be given to the planning commission.
“Right now along M-15 we are close to the village,” he said. “We have a very small footprint, there would be a high degree of concern.”
Marijuana production has been a part of the landscape in Colorado for a few years.
Colorado Amendment 64, which was passed by voters on Nov. 6, 2012, led to legalization in January 2014 and an economic boom for the state. Edgewater, Colo., located just west of Denver, has a population of about 5,200 people and a half-dozen pot shops.
Kris Teegardin, mayor of Edgewater for about two years, supports the marijuana industry for good reason—the city collected just over $1.2 million in sales tax revenues from pot in 2016.
“We are a very landlocked community,” said Teegardin, in an interview on Wednesday. “Therefore we have no room for any industrial zoning or grow and process facilities. But what many people don’t realize is that the marijuana industry touches many parts of the economic sector—including agriculture, engineers and electricians. There are complex water and lighting systems, many levels of distribution—it’s an absolute wide myriad of jobs created.”
The downside has been non-existent, he added.
“It’s been a wonderful boom to our community,” he said. “The shops are open until midnight and they have been great neighbors. Our DUIs are up slightly, but we also have more traffic in the city. The key is security, Colorado has been very strict and it shows.”
Other communities in Michigan are moving forward with medical marijuana facilities.
According to news reports, on Jan. 10, board members in Pinconning Township located in Bay County, voted 5-0 to OK permits for commercial medical marijuana facilities within the township. Pinconning will limited their number of facilities to 25 Class A licenses when they are issued in December.
Calls to Pinconning Township Supervisor Sharon Stalsberg were not returned as of press time Thursday.