The City of Houghton’s current medical marijuana ordinance does not comply with the recently passed Medical Marijuana Facility Licensing Act.
As the December 15th deadline approached, the city chose to rely on its existing ordinance and to take no further action as the new rules went into effect.
It was believed at the time that the city’s sole medical marijuana dispensary would be able to continue to operate under that ordinance.
At their regular meeting Wednesday, City Manager Eric Waara informed the city council the facility must be licensed by the state to continue to operate.
In order to receive a license, the city must provide an attestation that they are planning on working on an ordinance to opt in to the new regulation program and that passage of that ordinance is pending.
Failure to authorize the clerk to sign the attestation would mean the existing facility would have to close as it does not have a license.
After some discussion, the council voted 5-1 (one absent) to sign the document and instruct the Planning Commission to begin working on an ordinance.
There are concerns that the federally run USDA Rural Development have indicated the possibility of withholding grant money from communities that have opted in to the medical marijuana program.
Recent changes to the Letter of Conditions used by the government have included that marijuana is a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance and is illegal and therefore any applicant for funds must certify that there is no marijuana-related activity in the community.
It is unclear if that attestation by the city amounts to essentially opting in to the program and could jeopardize future grant money.
Waara said just because they craft an ordinance doesn’t mean they have to pass it, but they are simply “kicking the can down the road.”