Dowagiac approves ordinance to allow recreational marijuana businesses

Published 10:33 pm Monday, July 25, 2022

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DOWAGIAC — After four years of observing the ever-changing Michigan cannabis industry, the City of Dowagiac is tossing its hat into the ring.

The Dowagiac City Council unanimously approved the City of Dowagiac Regulation of Marihuana Ordinance during its Monday meeting at City Hall, 241 S. Front St.

The ordinance establishes that the city is now opting in to allowing for recreational marijuana establishments and requires that all recreational marihuana establishments follow all state regulations as well as local rules and regulations. It also requires that all recreational marijuana establishments obtain a city permit, establishes the parameters for the permitting process and calls for the establishment of licensing fees and limitations on the number of licenses. 

Marijuana establishments will be allowed in both highway commercial zoning districts more than 1,000 feet from schools and industrial-zoned areas. Initially, the application fee will be set at $5,000 and the limit on each type of license available will be three.

“Everything will be in place once (the ordinance) gets published,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson. “Following a 20-day waiting period after the publication, we’ll be in a spot where we can start taking applications.”

There are six types of licenses available:

  • Marihuana Growing Establishment, either Class A, Class B, or Class C Permits 
  • Marihuana Processor Establishment, 
  • Marihuana Secure Transporter Establishment, 
  • Marihuana Retailer Establishment, 
  • Marihuana Microbusiness Establishment, and 
  • Marihuana Safety Compliance Facility. 

The ordinance states that only three permits for each type of authorized adult-use marihuana establishment will be issued by the city. 

The following types of AUME and permits are not authorized and shall not operate within the boundaries and jurisdiction of the City: 

  • Designated Consumption Establishments 
  • Excess Marihuana Grower Permit
  • Marihuana Event Organizer Permit
  • Temporary Marijuana Event Permit

City officials voted unanimously in November 2018 to opt out of the recreational marijuana business so the elected officials, staff, and legal counsel could follow the development of the laws and regulations concerning recreational marihuana facilities. 

In the four years since, the city watched as neighboring communities including the City of Niles, Buchanan, Cassopolis and Edwardsburg have worked through bugs and established practices that worked. 

“Once everything settled down, council just moved forward with it,” Anderson said. “I don’t think there’s ever been any particular opposition other than just making sure that everything is in place.”

“We watched the angst that so many communities around this suffering through,” said Mayor Don Lyons. “The pros, the cons and all of the hype that went with it and we said ‘our day will come’. We didn’t want to consume our resources with that.”

Those four municipalities, along with Berrien County and Cass County, were among the 163 municipalities statewide that received payments from the Marijuana Regulation Fund in March. Each eligible municipality and county received more than $56,400 for every licensed retail store and microbusiness located within its jurisdiction.

The distribution breakdown for local municipalities and counties is as follows:

  • Buchanan: Number of licenses – five; city distributions – $282,267.20
  • Cassopolis: Licenses – two; village distributions – $112,906.88
  • Edwardsburg: Licenses – two; village distributions – $112,906.88
  • City of Niles: Licenses – three; city distributions – $169,360.32
  • Berrien County: Licenses – nine; county distributions – $508,080.96
  • Cass County: Licenses – four; county distributions – $225,813.76

City Manager Kevin Anderson and the council believe that the city can now move clearly and directly through the establishment of reasonable, effective recreational marijuana business regulations that are consistent and compliant with state law. Over the last six weeks, City Council considered a series of actions to establish the framework to allow for recreational marijuana businesses in Dowagiac. 

“We’re comfortable with it,” Lyons said. “When the straw poll was taken by the state, Dowagiac citizens overwhelmingly supported it. There was never that kind of an issue, it was just how are we going to consume our resources and we thought we had better places to do it than at endless meetings over the course of a year.”