Kalamazoo holds public forum on medical marijuana

FILE - In this May 5, 2015, file photo, a marijuana plant grows at a Minnesota Medical Solutions greenhouse in Otsego, Minn. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo is closer to allowing medical marijuana to be grown, sold and taxed within its city limits.

Today, the city put on a public forum for people who are interested in the city’s plans to legalize medical marijuana.

“This public meeting, this is basically a precursor to taking the draft language before the elected officials,” said Peter Eldridge, Kalamazoo’s zoning administrator.

The City of Kalamazoo held a public forum for the addition of medical marijuana dispensaries on July 27, 2017.

In 2012, Kalamazoo voters approved an amendment to the city charter allowing medical marijuana dispensaries. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled them illegal shortly after that. Then the state legislature made them legal again last fall.

Fast forward to today, a variety of proposed municipal ordinances are being drafted that would allow seven medical marijuana dispensaries, known as “provision centers,” to open in Kalamazoo.

Some who attended the forum were interested in opening medical marijuana dispensaries, while others were a bit more cautious.

“So the maps we’ve laid out show the available acreage for the different facility types,” Eldridge said.

But some people wonder about where those dispensaries may be located.

“They will put things in our neighborhood they wouldn’t dare put where they live, and then they talk about what happens in our neighborhood,” said Mattie Jordan-Woods, Northside Association for Community Development executive director.

Jordan-Woods says she would like to see the city notify people that dispensaries may open in their neighborhood. But the city has no notification plans. Business licenses are public record, however.

“We know that we have some in our neighborhood that are very sick, and that they need this, and then we also know that there’s other issues that are going on in our neighborhood that people take advantage of our neighborhood,” she said.

Kalamazoo City Attorney Clyde Robinson says each medical marijuana dispensary license is only valid for one year, which will allow people to let the city know if there are problems before the license is renewed.

The city will start accepting applications for medical marijuana dispensaries Nov. 15. City staff said applicants will be put into a lottery system.