420 celebration coming to Buchanan

BUCHANAN – A cannabis celebration sometimes called “Weed Day” in other parts of the country is coming to downtown Buchanan this April. Buchanan City Commissioners approved plans for the April 20 celebration at their meeting Monday night.

The “420 Celebration” is being organized by Zen Leaf, the first marijuana retail establishment to open in the city in 2019. The “420” refers not only to the April 20 date but also-according to Wikipedia and other sources-to how it was used as a code word for a group of high school students using marijuana in the 1970s.

Although some details still have to be worked out, Jake Smith of Zen Leaf said the plan is to set up a booth and have vendors outside the Zen Leaf shop on Front Street that day. Both Zen Leaf and another local marijuana business, Redbud Roots, will hand out free non-THC gifts to people.

They would also offer a photo booth and music as well as have a donation bucket to raise funds for the Humane Society.

“We want to make sure everyone will leave informed about cannabis and also be safe and follow COVID restrictions,” he said. “We will be offering curbside services and have beefed up security. We want everyone to be safe.”

Smith said he is open to making changes and improvements to the celebration.

“We’re not wanting it to be a pot fest, people will not partake while they’re there, we’re trying to be responsible,” he said. “420 is a big celebration and where the dispensaries are is where people will go. I can almost guarantee that it will be an annual event.”

Commissioners discussed a number of ideas including shutting down Front Street from Redbud to Oak that day, but did not make a final decision on doing that. Smith said he would work with Police Chief Tim Ganus and other city officials on planning the celebration.

“I would like to see it done with class,” said Mayor Sean Denison. “That is my only thing. As long as all of us are being safe, this is a great way to promote the city.”

Resident and downtown businessman Alan Robandt said he would like to see the celebration include all the city’s dispensaries.

“I love the idea of Zen Leaf’s 420 event,” he said. “I learned about it a year ago and had no idea what it was. I think it should be a community event for all retail dispensaries, and it should be promoted by the city to bring people here.”

Monday’s meeting also featured mention of the marijuana revenue the city received from the state last week. City Manager Heather Grace reported that the state deposited $84,003.96 in the city’s account on March 4 for the city’s share of marijuana tax revenue for the 2020 fiscal year.

“It was something we were hopeful we would be getting but we didn’t know when we would,” she added. “There was no advance notice when we received it in our bank account March 4. It wasn’t it our budget.”

Grace said she expects the dollar amount to increase in coming years as more dispensaries are operating in the city.

“Now we can make plans moving forward,” she said. “I hope it to be double next year as we have more licensed retail establishments operating which will increase the amount we receive.”

“It also brings up policy considerations as to what type of things we want to use the money for such as economic development and quality of life improvements,” she added. “I wanted to let you know about it so we can have that conversation.”

How to spend the marijuana money is expected to be one of several topics to be discussed at a budget workshop session the commission is having this Saturday, March 13, at 10 a.m. The workshop will focus not only on budget amendments for the current year but also what the new budget should look like for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Monday’s meeting also featured action on the much talked about new Department of Public Works building. Commissioners have been discussing the new building for several months and agreed in late January to locate it next to the current facility at the end of Clark Street.

Commissioners agreed with a proposal from Public Works Director J.T. Adkerson to solicit requests for proposals for the design and construction of the new building. Adkerson said he’s asking companies to give prices for a number of different scenarios including keeping part of the current building or tearing it all down as well as for using all steel or a combination of concrete and steel in the new building.

Also Monday, commissioners:

  • Heard from the United Way of Southwest Michigan about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program to provide books to area youngsters.
  • Approved new rules and regulations for grave decorations in the Veterans Circle at Oakridge Cemetery.
  • Accepted the bid of $6,290 from Peerless Midwest of Mishawaka to replace the master meter at the city’s chemical feed building.
  • Approved a resolution declaring March to be Restaurant Month. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners approved a similar resolution last week.
  • Renewed six adult use and medical marijuana permits for G2 Development doing business as 7 Engines for grow, processing and provisioning centers on River and East Front Streets.
  • Approved an Easter Egg Drive Thru event being proposed by the Buchanan Leo Club for Saturday, April 3 at the Common. Leo Club members will be handing out bags of goodies to people driving through the parking lot near the City Center.

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