Strengthening pot ban

Perry City Council members discuss including marijuana businesses in the city’s zoning ordinance.

PERRY — The Perry City Council advanced a zoning amendment Thursday strengthening the city’s ban on marijuana-related businesses in the city.

The council voted 4-1 to place an amendment to Zoning Ordinance 344 on the council’s next agenda for approval.

The proposed amendment would add an additional category defining an adult business to include marijuana. The amendment would define an adult business as “a business in any manner that encourages or permits the use or consumption of marijuana on the premises. It included the term cannabis recreational center, marijuana or cannabis or social club, social cannabis club, etc.”

Other adult businesses — including night clubs that include partial nudity, stores that primarily sell items related to sexual activities, adult movie theaters and other sexually themed business — already are regulated under the city’s ordinance.

The goal of the four council members who voted to advance the marijuana amendment is to make sure businesses related to the cultivation or sale of marijuana are unable to set up shop within city limits.

In November, after Proposal 1 was passed legalizing recreational marijuana in Michigan, the Perry City Council passed an ordinance that bans marijuana-related businesses from operating in the city.

The new zoning amendment seeks to further define these marijuana-related businesses to make it harder for any marijuana-related business to find a loophole to exploit that would give them a legal basis for existing in the city.

“It’s a safeguard right now until we know how state regulations come down. It’s a matter of putting this in place to stop anything from coming in. We want to define that business and then there’s nothing that says that in three months from now when the state comes down with their regulations then we say, we can make some money,” Mayor Pro Tem Michael Queen said.

The lone dissenting vote Thursday was from council member Christopher Powell. Powell is a veteran who is disabled and he said he uses marijuana regularly to ease his pain.

“I’ve had my medical card probably for seven, eight years, he said. He explained that he used to be on morphine and hydrocodone and has stopped using morphine since he started using marijuana.

Powell said the closest place for him to get marijuana is in Lansing.

“Whether you do it or you don’t, it’s like drinking. I don’t drink alcohol, but they have a bar here. I think it should be treated exactly the way liquor should,” Powell said. “We don’t need 20, but one or two I don’t think is a bad thing.”

He said there are six empty buildings in downtown Perry and a marijuana provisioning center could go into one of those.

“I don’t think we’re in a situation to say we don’t want money coming in,” Powell suggested.

The city council next meets May 2.

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