CHESANING — The village council June 30 took no action and allowed a 180-day moratorium on medical marijuana licenses to expire — opening up the village once again for new business applications.
The village initially passed the moratorium in 2018 and extended it for an additional 180 days in January.
“The initial passage of the moratorium was simply to let us catch our breath. We were just getting inundated with calls and applications,” village administrator Troy Feltman said.
Since the moratorium was approved a year ago, no new site plans have been approved, but existing businesses have been able to apply for additional licenses to expand operations.
With the expiration of the moratorium, Feltman said, the village will begin accepting applications again for medical marijuana businesses and site plans for recreational marijuana businesses, in anticipation of the state issuing guidelines in the fall.
The village has become known around the state and the nation as being friendly to marijuana-related businesses.
According to Feltman, the village council voted to allow medical marijuana facilities in July of 2017, this included medical marijuana dispensaries, grower/processor facilities, testing facilities, and secure transport businesses.
Since opting in to allow medical marijuana facilities the village of Chesaning has issued 32 different licenses, although several applicants/projects include multiple licenses.
When the city opted in to medical marijuana, it set a cap for the number of medical marijuana provisioning centers at two.
One of the two provisioning centers is up and running and the other will be in the next few weeks.
Feltman said he expects the cap on provisioning centers to remain at two and the two existing medical marijuana provisioning center license holders may apply for an additional license to sell recreational marijuana.
“What I understand is that they will have to get a separate license to do both and differentiate physically inside their spaces what marijuana is recreational and what is medical. From the local perspective, they will submit an application and we will evaluate application and council will decide whether or not to grant them a license,” he said.
Besides the two provisioning centers, the village has issued two secure transport licenses, one testing facility license. The other licenses are for growers/processors.
One of the largest growers of medical marijuana in the state, VB Chesaning is located in the village.
The company converted the former Peet Packing plant, which was annexed into the village, into 20,000 square feet of space for growing, manufacturing, and packaging medical marijuana. The company was the first licensee under the Michigan Medical Facilities Licensing Act.
VB Chesaning has 10 grower licenses and one processor license. A single grower license limits the number of plants that can be cultivated at a certain location.
The village set no cap on three of these types of businesses — grower/processor, testing facilities and secure transports business — and now that the moratorium has expired, applications for these businesses are expected to start to roll in again.
All of the licenses that are awarded in the village of Chesaning go through the same process.
The special use permit for the business has to be approved by the planning commission and then the village council votes on whether or not to grant a license.
“What it comes down to is, the strength of the business plan and what they are proposing for the community. We made it extremely clear that we want people to be a part of the business community you know to participate in the Chamber and stuff like that,” Feltman said.
He expects the state to start granting licenses for recreational marijuana by the fall and the village will follow roughly the same timeline.
“Until that happens we’re in a holding pattern with regards to recreational marijuana,” he said.
Feltman said it is difficult to calculate what kind of revenue the industry is bringing in for the city because of all the different jobs being created and property taxes that will be paid. He estimates that just through application and permit fees alone the village has collected more than $200,000.
“For us, that’s a significant boost that’s about 18 percent of our general fund revenue,” Feltman said. “The council has been pragmatic. I mean if you just look at this from an economic standpoint VB Chesaning alone has 100 jobs. The reality of it is we put ourselves on the map by getting out front and it’s been great for job creation.”