IM drafts rules for medical marijuana facilities

IRON MOUNTAIN — An ordinance authorizing medical marijuana facilities is moving closer to adoption by Iron Mountain City Council, which will accept public input at its May 6 meeting before scheduling a formal hearing.

Initially, the city would allow — through a merit-based application system — only two licenses each for sales, processing and growing. The city will abide by state rules, but the local ordinance will add another layer of regulation.

Iron Mountain would have an application process, a merit review and fee structure for licensing, and other general requirements and restrictions. No marijuana could be smoked, used or consumed at any facility.

By state requirements, processing and growing must take place in an industrial-zoned area. Other Iron Mountain facilities would be allowed in commercially-zoned areas as long as they are at least 500 feet from a school.

Currently, the state’s Bureau of Marijuana Regulation regulates medical marijuana facilities and licensees — including growers, processors, transporters, provisioning centers and safety compliance facilities. At the end of April, the bureau will be replaced by the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, which will oversee the regulation of both medical and recreational marijuana.

The council spent about an hour Monday mainly discussing the scoring system that will be used if the number of applicants exceeds the city’s licensing quota. Although it may yet be adjusted, points of emphasis include the applicant’s ability to operate the facility and the economic impact.

The council heard from attorney Dennis Tousignant of Iron River, who represents several investors prepared to file for licensing. “You have viable candidates,” he said.

By June, the state may have its draft rules ready for the commercial production and sale of recreational marijuana, but the city has yet to take a position on whether it would choose to allow those facilities.

In other action, the council:

— Agreed to commit to paving work on Vulcan Street, even though the cost will be about $63,000 more than anticipated. The project will be aided by a Small Urban grant secured through the Michigan Department of Transportation. The bid came in at $399,000, compared with an estimate of $336,000, City Manager Jordan Stanchina said. Concrete costs were the main reason for the overrun, he said.

— Approved a wage increase for seasonal workers employed at the cemetery and by public works. The new schedule will be $10.70 per hour — minimum wage plus $1.25 — for the first year of employment; $11.20 per hour for the second year; $11.70 for the third year; and $11.95 for the fourth year. An additional $2 per hour may be paid at the discretion of the public works supervisor for some duties, such as road patching. The total cost of the increases will be about $5,000, Stanchina said. It has been a struggle in recent years to get applicants for the positions, he said.

— Noted a spring household waste drop-off will take place in front of the public works building, 125 N Stephenson Ave., from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, and 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 17-18.

— Adopted a resolution of appreciation for local newscaster Aaron Harper, who will be honored from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at the Dickinson County Fairgrounds in Norway. The resolution salutes his broadcasting excellence, informative coverage and regard for the community. Harper began covering city council meetings in 1972. An Air Force veteran, he earlier served with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Network broadcasting in Europe.

— Heard Stanchina report that Habitat for Humanity is interested in acquiring a city parcel at 522 E. A St. for construction of a new home. The existing home would be demolished.

— Heard council member Pam Maule encourage further research into offering green, or natural, burials at Cemetery Park, saying there is considerable local interest.

— Was introduced to Lawrence Sobson, new district forester for the Dickinson Conservation District, who offered his assistance to the city and its tree board.

— Adopted a resolution recognizing April 28 as Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to make workplace safety a priority.

— Received a suggestion from resident Mark Bolander to invest in pothole patching equipment to preserve streets longer.