On December 18, 2018, the Grand Rapids City Commission finalized the Grand Rapids Medical Marihuana Facilities Ordinance, permitting five types of licensed medical marijuana businesses to be located within Grand Rapids. The city Planning Commission held an informational meeting on January 3, 2019, to provide additional details on the process.
Core and Support Licenses Have Different Processes
Each business requires a separate license, and the application process is different depending on if you are applying for a “Core” industry license (growers, processors and provisioning centers) or a “Support” industry license (secured transporters and safety compliance labs). There is no cap on the number of medical marijuana facilities in Grand Rapids. However, the number will be limited by the zoning and separation distance requirements in the ordinance, so it is crucial that an application is correctly submitted the first time.
While most of the application documents are the same for the Core and Support licenses there are some key differences in the application process. The Core licenses require a Special Land Use (SLU) approval, which requires a public hearing before the Planning Commission, while the Support licenses only require a staff director review of the application with no public hearing. Grand Rapids will begin to accept applications for the Support licenses on January 22, 2019.
Each Core business requires SLU approval, each applicant/application must appear before the Planning Commission. Since the Planning Commission can review approximately 2-5 applications per hearing, the City has created a draw system to determine the order in which the applications will appear before the Planning Commission for the first wave of applications. The City will begin accepting applications on March 4, 2019. Completed applications received between March 4, 2019 and March 15, 2019 will be sorted into “pools” based on a total of eight possible points granted to the applicant via the Marihuana Industry Voluntary Equitable Development Agreement (MIVEDA) part of the application. The City will draw the applications on April 12, 2019, beginning at 2 pm in the commission chambers and live-streamed on Facebook, with the first Planning Commission meeting on May 9, 2019.
To apply for a Support license, Grand Rapids requires an applicant to prove that they have applied for prequalification by the state. To apply for a Core license, Grand Rapids requires an applicant to receive prequalification before the date of the drawing, April 12, 2019. If an applicant has not received prequalification by that date, the City will return the application as incomplete and the applicant will not be eligible for the draw. The prequalification process can take anywhere from 4-8 months.
Definitive deadlines are fast approaching and there is lots do to complete your application. Below are important steps we believe anyone interested in seeking to open a marijuana business within Grand Rapids should take today.
A Plan, More Plans and Expert Planning
The application for both Support and Core licenses require numerous attachments. These include land surveys showing the required separation distances, building elevations, a site plan, a sign plan, a lighting plan, an operations plan, business plan, the Good Neighbor Plan, and a crime prevention plan approved by the Grand Rapids Police Department. Each of these plans takes time to develop as there is a lot of underlying work that needs to be done. It is critical that you are talking to relevant professionals to ensure they have time to get the work done properly before the deadline.
Meet Your Neighbors
The City of Grand Rapids is all about community engagement when it comes to marihuana businesses. As part of the application process, applicants must submit a “Good Neighbor Plan.” This plan requires the applicant to meet with the neighborhood organization, business association and/or corridor improvement district in the area in which the prospective marijuana business is located. It is also important to look around the community to determine if any sensitive use waivers are needed with the application. The City requires this outreach so neighborhoods have an understanding and can have input on the impact a marijuana business may have on their community. The Good Neighbor Plan requires applicants to discuss any potential adverse effects, such as parking, litter, noise, law enforcement activities, etc.
As always, if you need assistance with applications, planning or strategizing your business or need to know something about marijuana law in Michigan, Cannalex Law is here to help.
This blog was co-written by Bob Hendricks and Sam Levine.