Town Hall Meeting
On February 19, 2019, The Berkley City Council held a town hall meeting to discuss recreational marihuana businesses and whether they should be allowed to operate in the City of Berkley. Christopher Johnson, General Counsel for the Michigan Municipal League, was the keynote speaker.
Participants at the town hall meeting were asked to put blue dots on a zoning map to indicate where they would prefer to see recreational marihuana business locate in the City of Berkley if they are approved.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here is the complete list of questions asked at the town hall meeting, along with answers provided by the city's attorney:
Q: Does the City have the right to include child resistant packing requirements for edibles?
The new Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (“MRTMA”), approved by Michigan voters as Proposal 1 at the November 2018 general election, makes the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (“LARA”) responsible for promulgating rules covering, among other things, packaging and labeling of marihuana. Additionally, MRTMA requires marihuana retailers to use opaque, resealable, child-resistant packaging.
Q: Will the City establish potency limits?
Under MRTMA, the State of Michigan through LARA is responsible for promulgating rules, including maximum potency levels for marihuana and marihuana-infused products. Testing and certification for potency will occur at state-licensed marihuana safety compliance facilities.
Q: Will ordinances require specific distances from schools?
MRTMA does not allow marihuana businesses to locate in residential zoning districts or within 1,000 feet of a public or private school. It is also illegal to possess or consume marihuana on school grounds.
Q: What provisions are in place to control problems such as mold, offensive odors, and fire? Will the City implement controls to prevent or minimize these concerns?
Building code and nuisance regulations will apply to marihuana establishments as they do to other businesses in the City.
Q: I’m concerned about the youth. Will edibles be banned in the City?
No. MRTMA allows persons 21 or older to possess, use or consume marihuana-infused products, including edibles.
Q: How much revenue will the City get and who gets their share first?
How much tax revenue the City will receive if marihuana businesses are allowed and licensed in the City of Berkley is uncertain. A portion of sales tax revenue from all commercial retail businesses is returned to the City through statewide revenue sharing. Also, MRTMA imposes a 10% excise tax on the retail sale of marihuana. Fifteen percent of the excise tax revenues collected by the State, after deducting the State’s expenses for administration and enforcement of MRTMA, and after further deducting monies the State appropriates for research, will be allocated to municipalities in proportion to the number of marihuana retailers within the municipality.
Q: Is LARA ready to grant licenses before December? Do cities need to opt out before then?
The State has until December 2019 to promulgate administrative rules and establish a regulatory framework for licensing marihuana businesses. The State is expected to meet this deadline, but in the event the State does not, the responsibility to license marihuana business applicants will fall to the City. And, unless the City has, by then, opted out by adopting an ordinance to completely prohibit or to limit the number, type, or location of marihuana businesses, the City will be required to issue a license for marihuana businesses, within 90 days of application, which may be located wherever commercial businesses are permitted in the City.
Q: With all that cash driving around Berkley, will there be the same or less gas stations, liquor stores and similar businesses?
The new marihuana law does not regulate or affect the number or location of such other businesses.
Q: There are banks accepting cannabis deposit in Illinois and every state. If a business doesn’t have a bank now, is there a federal bill addressing this?
Banking institutions have been reluctant to serve marihuana businesses due to the illegality of marihuana under federal law. Recent reports, however, indicate the number of banking institutions servicing marihuana businesses is on the rise. And, it remains to be seen whether the U.S. Congress will act to clarify federal banking law or to protect banks that service marihuana businesses, or whether the State of Michigan may establish a state banking system for marihuana businesses.
Q: Can we put city-specific ordinances on businesses such as scholarships for Berkley High, limited evening hours, direct fees to the Berkley Department of Public Safety?
Reasonable regulation of operating hours may be permissible. But, the City lacks authority to tax or charge a marihuana business other than an annual fee, not more than $5,000, to defray application, administrative, and enforcement costs associated with the operation of a marihuana business in the City.
Q: Is the survey the sole source for how we will proceed as a community? How will the City Council decide on the option to pursue?
No. City Councilmembers will do their own research and draw their own conclusions on how to proceed. The survey is just one more tool to provide the City Council with some direction.
Q: How will it be decided on which zones will be allowed to have the different types of businesses, such as retailers versus growers?
If marihuana businesses are to be permitted in the City, the Berkley Planning Commission will study, hold a public hearing(s), and make a recommendation, and the City Council will make the final zoning decision as to whether, what types, how many, and where marihuana businesses may be located.
Q: How can we stay update on the progress of this matter and the answers to the questions raised today?
Residents may look for updates to be posted on the City website and social media sites
Q: What area in Berkley would be considered since Berkley is not very large?
The answer to that question will stem from a zoning process. It starts with the City Planning Commission, which would study, hold a public hearing(s), and make a recommendation. It ends with the City Council, which would make the final zoning decision as to whether, what types, how many, and where marihuana businesses may be located. Under MRTMA, marihuana businesses may not locate in a residential-zoned area or within 1,000 feet of a school.
Q: What repercussions would there be for any individual found to be in violation of the maximum quantity allowed under the new law?
Penalties for violations are prescribed in MRTMA. Generally, a first offense is a $500 civil infraction and forfeiture of the marihuana. However, penalties increase for repeat offenses and for having more than twice the lawful quantity.
Q: Can the City implement its own excise tax or other fees to offset any cost of allowing marihuana businesses?
The City is authorized to charge an annual fee of not more than $5,000 to defray application, administrative, and enforcement costs associated with the operation of a marihuana business.
Q: Can Berkley opt out after the state regulation go into effect?
Yes, but if a marihuana business is already lawfully licensed or established in the City, it may have a vested right to operate.
Q: If Berkley opts out, can the City Council reconsider and opt in at a later time?
Q: Can Berkley change the types of businesses initially allowed in an ordinance?
Yes, but if a business is already lawfully operating, it may have a vested right to continue.
Q: What about allowing medical marihuana in Berkley?
Medical marihuana businesses are not currently permitted in Berkley. The City Council would need to decide to opt in, and would also need to decide whether, where, how many, and what kind of medical marihuana businesses should be allowed.
Q: Which of the surrounding communities are opting out?
LARA maintains an unofficial list of municipalities that have opted out.
Q: How do our laws compare with other states that have legalized marihuana for recreational use?
There are similarities, and there are differences. Michigan’s new law does allow a greater amount of marihuana to be lawfully possessed by an individual or in a home than any other state does.
Q: Have there been studies in other states, such as Colorado, to determine if legalizing recreational marihuana causes an increase in crime?
There are numerous studies, reports and statistics on this topic with differing results and conclusions. Berkley has not undertaken any study in this regard.
Here are the results from a survey about recreational marihuana that was conducted online and at the town hall meeting:
Question 1: Are you in favor of allowing recreational marihuana businesses to operate in the City of Berkley?
YES: 1,010 (62.23%)
NO: 617 (38.02%)
Question 2: If YES, what types of marihuana businesses should be allowed?
1. Retailer: 941 (97.01%)
2. Grower: 666 (68.66%)
3. Processor: 622 (64.12%)
4. Tester: 595 (61.34%)
5. Transporter: 595 (61.34%)
Question 3: If allowed, where should recreational businesses be located?
1. 11 Mile Road: 794 (72.18%)
2. 12 Mile Road: 609 (55.36%)
3. Coolidge Hwy: 623 (56.64%)
4. Greenfield Road: 618 (56.18%)
5. Woodward Ave: 689 (62.64%)
6. Not sure: 100 (5.82%)
Question 4: Would you prefer to limit the number of marihuana businesses that should be allowed in the City?
Yes: 788 (69.73%)
No: 342 ( 30.27%)
Question 5: If YES, what limit do you prefer?
1. 1-3: 519 (55.27%)
2. 4-7: 229 (24.39%)
3. Other: 191 (20.34%)
Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (Proposal 1)
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA)
Michigan Municipal League
In Consideration of Opting Out