Investment group proposes development under new marijuana legislation
MONTROSE – The Montrose City Council will hold a special town hall meeting on Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. to gather resident opinions about whether the community would welcome a cannabis industrial park within the community.
During the Feb. 9 meeting of the Montrose City Council, a group of investors from the Michigan Cannabis Development Association (MCDA) talked about investing in a cannabis park. They want to know if the City of Montrose would be open to having highly-regulated production facilities that would create jobs within the community.
Montrose City Attorney Otis Stout said, “We need as much information as possible so we can make an informed decision.”
During the Feb. 9 meeting, MCDA Executive Director Sandra McCormick addressed the council explaining that she previously worked for Michigan Senator Rick Jones and was the lead on the topic, “having read every state’s law as it relates to this issue.”
In September of last year, Governor Rick Snyder signed medical marijuana legislation. In a news release Snyder said, “This new law will help Michiganders of all ages and with varying medical conditions access safe products to relieve their suffering. We can finally implement a solid framework that gives patients a safe source from which to purchase and utilize medical marijuana.”
McCormick explained that the bill creates five types of licenses for production from seed to sale, and it would be run by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
She explained that it would be licensed similar to liquor laws.
McCormick said, “Your ordinance will govern. You can regulate it so it’s not an eyesore. A task force would be created in conjunction with the MSP (Michigan State Police).
MCDA member and business person George Verstraete said, “We’re looking to make a cannabis corporate park. Whether you like cannabis or don’t like it, if you think this is going away, you’re wrong.”
MCDA President Tim Ratliff told the council that what they’re proposing would generate approximately 150 good paying jobs.
Verstraete said, “More jobs, means more money.”
Councilwoman Deb Gross asked about the other businesses that would occupy a cannabis corporate park.
Ratliff said they would be marijuana related; growing plants, extraction, processing, etc. He explained that they are holding some property in Montrose, but won’t move forward unless the city “opts in” and is willing to work with them.
Verstraete said he and a partner are developing a cannabis park in California.
Ratliff said, “The people we’re trying to bring in here are serious business people.”
Councilman Robert Arnold said, “My concerns are noise, traffic and smells. It’s a residential area.” Arnold was immediately corrected with Mayor Colleen Brown and others saying, “No, it’s zoned industrial.”
McCormick explained that it’s all subject to state approval.
Travis Copenhaver, an associate attorney with Pollicella & Associates, PLLC, said, “Obviously we have some different perspectives. There are going to be regulations. You can say what they’re going to look like. A lot of this you can do through existing ordinances.”
“[This is] unlike the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which was poorly written,” Copenhaver said. “Appearance, location, line of sight, these are all within your control. There’s a big push for companies. We’re talking about a new, highly regulated industry. You’re not dealing with guys growing plants in their basements. The marijuana is being tracked from seed to sale. It’s used for medicine. At no point are there going to be people walking in off the street to purchase it,” he said.
Richard responded, “So you’re operating almost like a pharmaceutical company?”
Verstraete said, “Exactly.”
Mayor Brown said, “They’re preparing to make these investments. They’re trying to determine whether to come here or go somewhere else.”
Ratliff added, “If you can just opt in.”
“[Then] I could start working on plans,” Verstraete said.
Brown said, “We do have a lot to gain from it. “
Arnold suggested the council call a town hall meeting. Councilman Mark Richard agreed saying, “I just want to know what the people want. They elected me.”
Stout said, “The planning commission has to look over this; but we need to know what the public thinks.”
The Montrose City Council set a town hall meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27 at the Montrose City office. The meeting is expected to be informational as well as providing the council with the opportunity to find out how its citizens feel.
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