PERRY — City council members once again expressed their disapproval toward altering the city’s charter to allow medicinal marijuana facilities, accusing the organizer of a recent ballot initiative Thursday of bringing in outsiders to make money in the small community.
“Why would we be able to handle seven dispensaries and why did you think we would?” council member Mindy Galbavi asked Shiawassee Cares Coalition representative Nicole Reid, a supporter of the ballot effort narrowly approved by voters Nov. 2.
Reid explained some licenses could potentially be combined, but it’s unlikely there would be seven facilities in Perry.
Council member Mike Connell said Reid’s organization, which pushed for the ballot initiative to approve a dispensary, was not from Perry, and did business out of a UPS store in Livonia.
“What’s your reasoning for why a city of 2,000 people needs seven facilities? I’d like to know that,” Connell said.
Reid clarified she did not write the ballot initiative.
Council members stated repeatedly during Thursday’s meeting that they are in favor of one medical marijuana dispensary in Perry, but the city of 2,000 does not need multiple facilities.
Perry voters approved the charter amendment allowing medicinal marijuana facilities 230-222 Nov. 2. The proposal also directed the city to create a “Department of Medical Marijuana responsible for overseeing the local regulatory structure for such facilities.”
Only 29.68% of eligible voters (452 of 1,523) casted ballots.
On Nov. 18, Mayor Sue Hammond explained she received a legal opinion from Michigan Assistant Attorney General George Elworth that indicates the charter amendment does not comply with Michigan’s Home Rule City Act.
At that meeting, council member Bob Porter said the council “in a sense” was going against the will of voters.
The council subsequently voted to authorize the city attorney to file the challenge, and also to refer the issue to the city’s Finance and Ordinance Committee for consideration. The city’s Planning Commission will identify an appropriately zoned area for a medical marijuana dispensary to operate.
The charter amendment passed by voters requires the city to authorize eight licenses for seven types of medical marijuana facilities, including two marijuana provisioning center licenses, and one each for a safety compliance facility, secure transporter, processor, class A marijuana grower, class B marijuana grower, and class C marijuana grower.
A further provision in the amendment states that within “30 days of the effective date of this article, the (Perry) city council shall enact all ordinances and resolutions necessary to facilitate operation of this article, but no ordinance or resolution shall limit or restrict the application of the provisions of this article.”
The city’s current zoning law bans medical marijuana dispensaries, stating that none “shall be commenced, conducted, operated, or utilized in any zoning district on or from any property within the City of Perry.”
An exception to the rule allows the “lawful dispensation of medical marijuana by a primary caregiver personally dispensing to not more than five qualified patients.”
The city also currently prohibits recreational marijuana facilities.
Shiawassee Cares Coalition circulated petitions among Perry residents, gaining enough valid signatures before the deadline to put the question on the ballot.