Niles City Council makes steps toward marijuana regulation

NILES — Whether Niles City Council decides to allow recreational marijuana businesses in city limits or not in the coming weeks, the results of Monday evening’s meeting at the Niles Fire Department Complex tightened wording meant to ensure proper business regulation would take place.

The council approved an agenda item to schedule a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7 for the second reading of two ordinances that would allow regulated recreational marijuana businesses. The council could then vote on whether to adopt the two ordinances at that same meeting.

If the council votes and does adopt them, recreational marijuana businesses could apply for state licenses when they are made available Nov. 1. If received, the businesses could then work with the city to obtain local licenses and build.

If the council votes not to adopt the ordinances, then the council may move forward with two amendments to two current ordinances that prohibit recreational marijuana businesses.

The amendments were proposed by councilmember Daniel VandenHeede at the council meeting and approved unanimously by his fellow members.

His proposal would amend current wording to ensure all recreational marijuana businesses are kept out of city limits. Its second hearing and potential vote will be at the same Oct. 7 special meeting.

VandenHeede said he proposed the amendments to protect the city. He said it would act as a buffer in the case that the council decides to wait to vote on marijuana businesses weeks or months from now.

Mayor Nick Shelton and City Administrator Ric Huff noted that there is pressure to get a vote on the floor by Nov. 1. If the council fails to do so, the state of Michigan would begin to accept recreational marijuana licenses to businesses while the city would not have a clear stance on whether it would accept such businesses or not.

“We’ve been moving along slowly and deliberately,” said councilmember John DiCostanzo. “I think we’ve done a good job crafting an ordinance that will make the residents of the city happy.”

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