Medical marijuana phenomenon has Bay County seeing green

By Adam Przeslak, sports editor.

A recent wave of medicinal marijuana legislation has been the talk of the town for some Bay County communities. Pinconning Township, Bangor Township and Bay City are just a few of the communities that have either proposed or voted on local regulations for the growth, sale and transportation of medical cannabis in the past year. Each of those communities have also chose to require a nonrefundable $5,000 application fee, which has community members seeing green already. Michigan became the 13th state in the country to have some sort of medical cannabis program with the passing of the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative in 2008.

“I loathed the drives down to Flint,” says one local medical marijuana patient who requested to remain anonymous. “Imagine not being able to pick up your prescriptions at the local drugstore but instead having to commute for nearly an hour to pick them up.”

In January of 2017, Pinconning Township became the first Bay County community to pass an ordinance that would allow for medical marijuana operations to open up shop within the township’s jurisdiction. Since the passing of the ordinance there have been over 50 class-C applications, according to a 2017 NBC25 article. A class-C application would allow for 1,500 plants to be grown in a facility up to 40,000-square-feet building. The township turned in their applications to the state at the end of last year and expects to see facilities up and running by spring 2018.

Bangor Township began taking applications in August last year and, according to a Mlive article, plans to limit the zones of the township in which growing, transportation and selling of cannabis can take place. Sales of the medicinal plant would only be allowed in non-residential areas while processing, transportation and growing facilities could be placed in industrial zones or commercial areas. The township is also home to the popular Wilder Road business district including the Bay City Town Center, formerly the Bay City Mall.

By the end of October Bangor Township had already approved 33 applications, some for growing and some for the production and transport sides of the industry, according to Mlive. Some of the proposed facilities are already anticipating hiring anywhere from 200 to 250 workers once production begins.

Bay City soon followed suit when the city commission voted 7-1 in approval of an ordinance allowing the production of medical marijuana under regulation in December. Bay City Mayor Kathleen Newsham opted to veto the ordinance three days after its approval, citing concerns for buffer zones around “law enforcement centers” and schools in the city and the large number of licenses that could potentially be handed out.

On Jan. 2 the city commission voted 8-1 in favor of overriding Newsham’s veto and continuing with the application approval process. Bay City, the largest community in Bay County, plans to allow 50 licensed dispensaries, 25 class-A licensed growers, 25 class-B licensed growers and 25 class-C licensed growers to be in operation at one given time.

“I think it’s exactly what this area needs,” says the anonymous patient. “With Pinconning, Bangor and other cities jumping headfirst into this industry, I actually think Bay City is behind.”

There’s no question that with the recent financial success in states like Colorado, Washington and Oregon that legalized medical, and later recreational, marijuana, there are serious gains to be made from this industry, and Bay County looks to be the next cannabis hotspot in our area.

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