Bay City to begin accepting applications for medical marijuana facilities

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BAY CITY (WJRT) (01/02/2018) - Bay City will begin accepting applications for medical marihuana facilities Wednesday morning after the City Commission voted to override a mayoral veto.

The Bay City Commission voted 8-1 Tuesday night to override Mayor Kathleen Newsham's veto of an ordinance spelling out how many medical marihuana facilities will be allowed and where they can be located.

"It's OK," said Newsham. "I just wanted to get that out there and let them take an extra minute or two to maybe review what they had changed back on Dec. 18."

The City Commission initially approved the ordinance on Dec. 18 by a 7-1 vote. Before that, the number of dispensaries allowed in the city was increased ten-fold while the amount of space required between them and public safety facilities was decreased to one-tenth.

Newsham exercised her right to veto the decision due to concerns she had about the revisions made to the ordinance.

"I'm not against the idea," Newsham said. "I'm just against the numbers and the areas where they want to put some of these dispensaries."

Specifically, the mayor was concerned that the number of dispensaries allowed was increased from five to 50 and the buffer between the facilities and courts and public safety offices was decreased from 500 feet to 50 feet.

Most of the city commissioners say it's time to move forward:

"I do think we need to reduce the numbers as we move forward into the New Year," said Ward 1 City Commissioner Jesse Dockett. "But right now we need to get the ball rolling with the people who are interested in investing in our city."

"We've talked to some of the other townships that are smaller and they have at least this number or right around that number," said Ward 7 City Commissioner Kerice Basmadjian. "I think it's going to work out. This is an ordinance. We can retool it, we can rework it, we can not renew licenses, it's not like absolute this is it forever."

The only commissioner supporting the mayor's veto, Ward 6 Commissioner John Davidson, was also the only "no" vote on the ordinance last month.

"I have constituents calling me voicing their opinion about what kind of example we're setting for our kids down the road," said Davidson.

Residents stepped forward after the vote to speak their minds.

Most of those who took to the microphone expressed opposition to allowing medical marihuana facilities in their city.

If there's a silver lining, the mayor said it's that the commissioners may now give some consideration to adjusting the number of dispensaries allowed in the city.

"Some of the commissioners have mentioned about changing the amount from 50 to a lower amount of dispensaries and if that happens, great. That was one of my issues," Newsham said.

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