Marijuana changes spill into 2019
Grand Rapids will begin accepting applications for medical dispensaries in March.
Michigan lawmakers and their constituents have a lot to look forward to in 2019.
One of the issues that will dominate headlines next year, like it did this year, will be marijuana.
This year revealed where the majority of Michigan residents stood on the use of recreational marijuana, and it was the year when Grand Rapids city commissioners adopted an ordinance to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries within city boundaries.
The city voted in September, however, to approve a six-month moratorium on accepting applications, which was supposed to begin on Nov. 1.
The moratorium is set to be lifted March 4, 2019, and city officials expect to start accepting applications from growers, processors and provisioning centers to begin the process of building medical marijuana facilities.
The ordinance allows for a maximum of 53 provisioning centers and 83 medical marijuana dispensaries that are state licensed and whose land use has been approved by the city planning commission.
One individual who is hoping to open a provisioning center in Grand Rapids is Hilary Dulany. She said she has been in the marijuana industry for over 10 years. During that time, she earned a recreational marijuana license in the state of Oregon and started a cannabis company, which was a medical marijuana business in the beginning.
Now, she hopes to open another marijuana business in Michigan, a place she is very familiar with. Dulany was the founder of Accuvape, which manufactures and sells vaporized products in Temperance, but she recently sold her business to Freedom Leaf, a company that produces and sells a variety of hemp-derived CBD products. The acquisition propelled Accuvape to become the first Michigan-founded company in the cannabis industry to be a publicly traded company.
Although the city is not accepting applications for provisioning centers right now, Dulany is looking ahead as she and her staff are gathering feedback from the community in an effort to bring CBD and THC products to the Grand Rapids market.
She also made another proactive move.
“A couple months ago … we purchased a number of properties in Grand Rapids,” she said. “(We) flipped a couple of them and kept the best one (with the intention of opening a provisioning center.)”
Kevin Currier, who is originally from Alpena but currently resides in Texas, said he is looking to return to Michigan to open a provisioning center in Grand Rapids.
He is in the process of seeking a provisioning center license from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. He said the process is tedious with a lot of paperwork involved, but he said it will be worth it once the moratorium is lifted and he is granted his license.
“We want to open a dispensary and my big thing is, since cannabis has been a part of a sub-culture for so long, I don’t want to disassociate (it) from this new movement,” Currier said. “So, we are going to have a big educational outreach program. We want to partner with neighborhood organizations and create a civic center or something like that. You really have to show what can be done, not just with the medicine itself for people individually but what the ancillary effects are, what you can do with the revenue from it and what you can do as a community.”
On the recreational front, where a majority of Michigan residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana, it has forced law enforcement to adapt to the new changes that allow for individuals 21 years and older to possess less than 2.5 ounces, 10 ounces in a locked container at home and grow up to 12 plants at home.
Kent County is working to drop some cases that involve possession of marijuana, but prosecutor Christopher Becker said it will take some time to decide which cases to drop.