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Michigan Mayor Confused About Medical Marijuana


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Bay City Mayor vetoes medical marijuana ordinance

Updated Dec 22, 5:07 PM; Posted Dec 22, 12:29 PM
(MLive File Photo)


UPDATE: This story has been updated to include comments from Mayor Kathleen Newsham and Commissioner Ed Clements, 8th Ward.

BAY CITY, MI -- Bay City Mayor Kathleen Newsham has vetoed an ordinance to allow commercial medical marijuana facilities in the city.

The decision came at the last hour on Thursday, Dec. 21, a day before Bay City Hall closed for holiday break.

Newsham said her veto doesn't mean that she is against the medical marijuana industry coming to Bay City. She feels some amendments to the originally proposed ordinance, specifically the number of licenses and the proximity to law enforcement centers, were rushed through and need to be further discussed.

"My voice needs to be heard on this and this is the only way I can do that," she said. "I just think we need to revisit this. I'm not against facilities coming, but we need to look it over again."

The City Commission on Monday, Dec. 18, voted 7-1 in approving an ordinance to allow and regulate medical marijuana facilities. Commissioner John Davidson, 6th Ward, voted against it. Commissioner David Terrasi, 2nd Ward, abstained from voting.

The ordinance allows for up to 50 licenses for provisioning centers, also known as dispensaries, that can be located in all of the city's business districts. The commission amended the proposed ordinance earlier this month to allow for a smaller buffer around law enforcement center and a greater buffer around schools.

Newsham said she preferred a 500-foot buffer around law enforcement centers and would have liked to see a lower number of licenses issued initially.

"We can always go back and increase that number," she said.

A veto doesn't mean the ordinance is dead. The City Commission can override the mayor's decision on a two-thirds vote. Bay City Commission President Andrew Niedzinski, 3rd Ward said the vote would take place at the commission's regular meeting 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, at City Hall, 301 Washington Ave.

The veto does delay licenses being issued by the city. City officials had hoped to start issuing and accepting licenses -- and the $5,000 nonrefundable fee that's required with those licenses -- after Christmas. The state started accepting its applications on Dec. 15.

The City Commission could simply vote to override the veto and business would continue as normal. But if any commissioners opt to change their vote and negotiations over what's included in the ordinance startup again, it could delay things.

Any amendments made to the ordinance now would require a first reading at a separate meeting before being voted on again.

Commissioner Ed Clements, 8th Ward, said he's disappointed in the mayor's veto."We need to start taking applications," he said. "These investors aren't going to wait around. If they think Bay City is teetering one way or the other, they're going to go to other communities."

Clements added that if the veto isn't overridden, it would be a big blow to the city from an economic standpoint.

"Bay City could be to the medical marijuana industry what Detroit is to automobiles," he said. "I think it has that much potential."

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