Pot or not? Reed City revisits allowing marijuana businesses

Two discussion sessions scheduled April 19 and 26

REED CITY — Some residents of Reed City have recently voiced their support of bringing marijuana businesses to the city and the city council has heard them.

City manager Rich Saladin told the Pioneer that the council has been in discussions regarding the possibility of opting into the sale and distribution of marijuana within the city limits for several weeks.

“It has come up in council a few times, so instead of just sitting on it, we decided we should explore it and look at all the options and revaluate it,” Saladin said. “We decided at the February council meeting that we would speak with our attorney about what direction we should go and how we might implement these businesses. She has worked with other municipalities in developing ordinances for marijuana.”

Saladin said the city council voted to opt out initially, and some of those council members that were against it are no longer on the council, so they wanted to revisit the idea and open up the discussion.

“Initially, I think it was more of a wait and see approach because it was still illegal at the federal level even though at the state level it was approved,” Saladin said. “So, they were waiting to see what was going on in Colorado and what was going to happen when Michigan approved it, how the taxes would work and all of that stuff.

“Reed City was a small municipality and there was some concern that if there was something that came along and there were penalties, that would hurt us financially, so that was part of the concern, as well,” he added.

Now that the state is two to three years into the process, "it’s probably not going to go away so it may be a good time to reevaluate the situation," he said.

“If you look at the ballot initiative in 2018, Reed City was not one that overwhelmingly supported that initiative, but now that we have seen what has happened in BR, and Evart and Cadillac and those communities around us, we think it is time for the city to revisit it,” Saladin said.  “So, we are going to open it up for discussion and see what options are there.”

Council discussed revisiting the resolution prohibiting marijuana establishments in the city limits in early 2020, and some board members expressed concerns about the negative impact it might have on the community.

Council member Trevor Guiles said at the time that he had done research on the impact on a community when a provisioning center was opened and found evidence that hospitalizations for marijuana-related addictions increased within a one-mile radius of a facility and income levels for the community decreased.

Board members also discussed the possible additional revenue the city might receive if they allowed marijuana retail sales in the city limits, and how that could benefit the city.

Earlier this year, council member Nate Bailey brought up the topic again, saying a lot of the issue is about increased crime, but in looking at surrounding communities that doesn’t seem to be the case.

He said he has spoken with law enforcement officers in the surrounding communities that allow marijuana sales and they have found that, as far as crime relates to the illegal selling of marijuana, the numbers have gone down.

Bailey has said he would want to draft an ordinance modeled after ordinances that other municipalities have implemented successfully and will be looking at surrounding communities to get insight into that process.

“I think it's incredibly important for the residents and community stakeholders to join in the discussion,” he said. 

Council has scheduled two work sessions to discuss the different scenarios and about what opting in would entail, about possible zoning requirements and if it will require a voter initiative or just council approval, Saladin said.

“These next two meetings will answer some of those questions about how we go about it and what is the best way forward,” he said. 

The work sessions are scheduled for 6 p.m, April 19 and 26, at City Hall, 227 E. Lincoln Ave., Reed City, and are open to the public.