City of Corunna

CORUNNA — City officials have scheduled a public hearing to take input regarding a proposed ordinance that would prohibit the establishment of any marijuana facilities within city limits.

The public hearing at 7:30 p.m. July 15 will be part of the council’s regular meeting. On June 3, the council voted 3-2 to move toward opting out of allowing any type of marijuana facility.

In order to complete the process, the city must pass an ordinance, according to City Manager Joe Sawyer.

“Now there is a little bit of a hitch,” Sawyer said earlier this month. “In the city of Corunna, under our charter, it takes four council votes to pass an ordinance. If we have a 3-2 vote on the ordinance, the ordinance fails.”

There are only five council members currently, with a vacant seat up for election in November 2022. Sawyer said that makes passing a new ordinance more difficult, given that it would have to come via a 4-1 vote, at a minimum.

“We can’t afford to have that ordinance fail, which means we’ve not opted out,” Sawyer said. “At that point, we’re unregulated, it’s a free-for-all. A free-for-all is not acceptable. I don’t think anybody wants that.”

The city has until the end of the year to decide if it wants to opt out or if it wants to create guidelines and/or restrictions on allowing marijuana businesses. If the city does not make a decision by the end of the year, it automatically opts in to allow medical marijuana dispensaries.

The ordinance, however, bans not just medical marijuana facilities, but any potential recreational marijuana facilities as well.

In order to avoid the risk of an unregulated environment, Sawyer said he and his staff will present a one-year moratorium proposal at the same time as the ordinance. If the ordinance fails, the moratorium proposal, which Sawyer said would likely gain approval, would serve as a one-year opt-out. The proposal would only require a majority vote, according to Sawyer.

“So whether they opt out, because you can always opt in later, or they do a moratorium to give it a year to see how it goes, either way that works,” Sawyer said. “Clearly what’s not going to happen in Corunna is an allowance at this point in time. Maybe a year from now, once we see how things work in other communities.”

The state has yet to determine a regulatory framework for recreational marijuana, which was approved in 2018 by state voters.

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