MENOMINEE — The Judicial and Legislative/Personnel and Labor Committee recommended to City Council that the council direct City Manager Tony Graff to develop the framework of an ordinance allowing recreational and medical marijuana facilities to be permitted within the city limits during Tuesday’s meeting. This ordinance would replace the city’s current ordinance opting out of permitting such facilities.

Graff said this process would continue over the course of several meetings. For the meeting, he and City Attorney Michael Celello prepared a sample, hypothetical opt-in ordinance laying out definitions, application processes, authorized establishments, general regulations and so on, with several areas left blank. “It does have everything, we eliminated nothing (in this example). It’s really the beginning of a couple-meeting process where we can get to the point of filling in the blanks,” he said.

“If you want to do something, then the next step you’re going to have to encounter is going to be do you want to do something by way of medical and recreational?” Celello said, “If you decide to do something, there are advantages to going into both. Once you decide that you are going to explore medical, recreational or both, then you get to the meat.”

He said at that point the city would be able to decide how many, if any, of the individual kinds of businesses they would allow, as there are significant differences between medical and recreational facilities. “If your goal is to have the more sophisticated grow processing operators, then you may for example say, ‘OK, we’re going to allow medical grows but no Class A, no Class B, no Class C,’ for example, purely for purposes for illustration,” Celello said.

Mayor Jean Stegeman made the motion to direct Graff to develop the ordinance framework. “We can always pick and choose what we want, but we have to have a starting place,” she said.

Councilmember Frank Pohlmann opposed the motion. “I’m happy with the current ordinance as it stands, and I certainly would oppose that the City Manager would spend additional time developing this ordinance for three reasons: the manager has specific goals and objectives for the year, and this is not one of them. I’d like to see first where we are on the goals that we set before he gets involved in something that is not part of them.”

He also noted that the list of those municipalities that allowed licenses of any kind is short, and the list of municipalities that allowed for designated consumption establishments similar to the ones that have been operating in Menominee topped out at four. “I don’t see any urgency to do it now, especially looking at the history,” he said.

“I don’t disagree on the goals and objectives at all,” Stegeman said, “but if we don’t get something on the books we may lose some measure of control on what happens going forward.”

During the public comment portion, Shannon Grugel of Menominee said she drove three hours to try to get medical marijuana, as she is a patient. “I drove three hours and still couldn’t get medicine. Why? Because other people that had medical dispensaries decided to go recreational and ruined it for the patients, so I will sue the State of Michigan if I do not get access to medication. I rely on cannabis to live; I’m terminal, I’m dying, I don’t know how much time I have, but I will be here for this fight to opt in because people like me need it,” she said.

Lori Paitl of Menominee said, “The fact that they’ve come this far is a really good sign.”

Tim Zimmerman asked if the city would be allowing previous businesses to exist. “I have no idea,” answered Committee Chairman Bill Plemel. “Until council takes action, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“Please don’t delay this by seeking outside counsel for suggestions,” said Brandon Cacek. “There’s already guidelines laid out, you can copy and paste a lot of that stuff from communities similar in size. The legality of lounges, you can fight that battle all you want, but it’s the community that’s important. This needs to be done quickly. Please don’t make it something the community has to vote on.”