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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Alma City to discuss legalizing recreational marijuana

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Over the past three years, Alma City officials have allowed various types of medical marijuana facilities to become licensed and operate within the city, but so far they have banned the sale of recreational marijuana.

However, that could change.

Over the past few months, city commissioners have been receiving correspondence from those who would like to see regulations regarding the sale of recreational marijuana.

Two of them came from Consume Cannabis, 528 Warwick Drive, one of the three medical marijuana provision centers licensed to operate in the city and the only one currently open.

Last August, owner Joey Kigbo gave a presentation to city commissioners that highlighted the benefits of legalizing the sale of marijuana to adults, including money that the city would get in additional tax dollars and annual licensing fees.

Earlier this month, Allen Martin, the company’s assistant director of operations, sent a letter to the commissioners again requesting that local rules governing the sale of recreational marijuana be changed.

He noted that there are nine adult retailers within 42 miles of Alma, including three municipalities, Mount Pleasant, Edmore and Crystal, that are 20 miles or less from the city.

Martin also added that another location, in the town of Arcada in Gratiot County, is preparing to open. This person will be located at the location of the former Crossroads Bar & Grill, just one mile east of the Alma city limits.

“We understand that this will be a delicate process and we stand ready to help establish a fair process for private use licensing, zoning issues and licensing for adult use retailers,” Martin wrote.

When city commissioners chose to opt out of Michigan’s Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act, which would have allowed the sale of recreational marijuana three years ago, they cited regulations at the time were vague but may be willing to discuss the matter again once the law becomes more pure.

Now seems to be the time, according to interim city manager Eric Ripley.

“The board will move the discussion at its March 22nd meeting,” he said. “The first thing they should do is repeal the ordinance banning the sale of recreational marijuana that they passed in 2019. That will be the first step.”

Ripley added that he’s heard that the other two companies that have been granted licenses to operate medical marijuana provision centers in the city may not open unless the sale of marijuana to adults is approved by the city.

Those are Pure Lapeer, which will be located in the former Pizza Hut building on Wright Street, and ENZEE, owned by local attorneys Zach Everett and Nancy Gallagher and their spouses.

City commissioners recently approved the transfer of the license previously owned by How Smooth It Is, which never opened, to ENZEE, located at 116 E. Superior St. In the former Cardboard Addiction Building, already owned by Everitt and Gallagher.

Additionally, Everett, his wife Becky, and his brother Josh and his wife Kara founded Fire Island LLC, the company that owns a new recreational marijuana dispensary that is preparing to open in Arcada Township.

Consume Cannabis owner earlier told city commissioners that since the state began allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, there has been a “significant decline” in medical marijuana card holders, registered care providers and sales.

One option city commissioners should consider is putting the issue to a referendum, which would allow residents to vote on whether or not to allow the sale of recreational marijuana in the city.

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