Recreational Cannabis

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On November 8, 2018, a majority of voters in Michigan approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (MRTMA), which will allow recreational cannabis across the State. On October 8, 2019, the City Commission adopted a licensing ordinance that represents a de facto opt-in for recreational cannabis uses.

On July 7, 2020, the Grand Rapids City Commission adopted amendments to the zoning and licensing ordinances, and also adopted the Cannabis Social Equity Policy.

On July 20, 2020, the City of Grand Rapids began accepting applications for recreational cannabis uses eligible for Director Review.

On September 1, 2020, the City of Grand Rapids began accepting applications for recreational cannabis uses requiring a Special Land Use.

Cannabis Social Equity Policy

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The Cannabis Social Equity Policy is a plan produced by the City of Grand Rapids that looks at the recreational cannabis industry through an equity lens. Our vision is to welcome this new industry, while uplifting members of our community that have been negatively affected by the presence of cannabis. The City encourages all participants in the recreational cannabis industry to follow the recommendations of this Policy to make this industry more equitable.

Cannabis or Marijuana?

The City of Grand Rapids is currently transitioning into using cannabis in all City ordinances, policies, forms, etc. We believe that this term will help look at this industry without any historical stigma and negative connotations coming from the use of the word marijuana.

Recreational Cannabis Zoning Ordinance

The City of Grand Rapids recently passed ordinance amendments to permit the following cannabis uses:

  • Growers
  • Processors
  • Secure Transporters
  • Safety Compliance Facilities (Labs)
  • Retailers

The City has two methods to review cannabis applications:

  1. Director Review: An administrative review for uses such as growers, processors, secure transporters, safety compliance facilities, and collocated retailers within the industrial zone district (SD-IT) and with less than 5,000 square feet of ground floor area.
  2. Special Land Use: A process involving a Planning Commission public hearing for all other retailers and certain non-retail uses based on their zone district.

Recreational Cannabis Business License

A business license is mandatory for all cannabis-related businesses. A business license is non-transferable. One license allows for the operation of one cannabis use. Some licenses can be stacked, or allow collocated operations. The licensing process is administered by the City Clerk's office, followed by an interdepartmental review and approval process.

Application Process

The application process involves a zoning (land use) approval by the Planning Department and a business license issuance by the City of Grand Rapids. All applicants must receive a zoning approval before submitting a license application.

Zoning Process

The City of Grand Rapids will process land use applications for recreational cannabis businesses as follows:

  • Applications that are eligible for Director Review: July 20-31, 2020
  • Applications that require Special Land Use: September 1-11, 2020 - these applications require a Planning Commission meeting

We've provided a table and map view of the active applications for cannabis facilities in Grand Rapids (currently showing medical cannabis applications as of July 20, 2020)

View Applications

For recreational cannabis zoning applications, please click on the resources linked below.

Licensing Process

The City of Grand Rapids will accept license applications for recreational uses from applicants with prior zoning approval. These facilities need to apply 30 days before their expected start date of operation. All facilities must obtain a local license before operating.


For all recreational cannabis uses, there is a fee of $5,000 per application. This fee includes the zoning and licensing process (for the first year only).

Renewal Process

The City of Grand Rapids requires the following documents for recreational cannabis license renewals:

•If applicable, CISEVA and/or MIVEDA compliance forms
•Updated social equity plan
•Updated environmental sustainability plan
•Proof of compliance with environmental sustainability reporting requirements
•Copy of current State license(s)
•Copy of security plan
•Insurance certificate meeting requirements of Sec. 7.366(g) of the Cannabis Related Municipal Licensing ordinance

Supporting Information

Timeline of public policy development for recreational cannabis

  • September 10, 2019: Planning Department gives a preliminary presentation to City Commission about local recreational cannabis.
  • September 24, 2019: City Commission discusses recreational cannabis facilities.
  • October 8, 2019: City Commission approves a licensing ordinance for recreational cannabis facilities and starts a six-month period for licensing and zoning regulations to be developed before the City begins accepting applications.
  • February 25, 2020: City Commission discusses an amendment to the zoning ordinance proposed by Planning Commission.
  • March 17, 2020: City Commission approves an ordinance amendment that delays the acceptance of cannabis-related municipal license applications to no later than October 20, 2020.
  • June 16, 2020: Cannabis Justice Work Group gives a preliminary presentation to City Commission about cannabis business recommendations.
  • July 7, 2020: City Commission approves amendments to the zoning and licensing ordinances for fast-track uses and adopts the Cannabis Social Equity Policy.
  • July 21, 2020: Planning Department gives a presentation to City Commission about deliberative uses.
  • August 8, 2020: Planning Commission discusses amendments to the Sensitive Land Use regulations in the Zoning Ordinance.
  • August 25, 2020: Planning Department gives a presentation to City Commission about deliberative track uses.

To read the Cannabis Social Equity Policy, click here.

What are the elements of the Policy?

  1. Equity Components and Definitions
  2. Equity Categories for the Application Process
  3. Equity Points System
  4. Application Process and Prioritization System
  5. Implementation, Compliance, and Enforcement of the Policy

How does the Policy work?

This Policy aims for the intersection of the following:

  1. Circle of Control: The City through what it can control within this industry:
    • Zoning ordinance
    • Licensing ordinance
    • Equity initiatives
  2. Circle of Influence: Organizations outside of the cannabis industry that can help add additional layers of equity and further the City’s mission  (*in progress*).
  3. Circle of Concern: Equity, Justice, and Economy. You are part of this collaborative effort to bring equity to the cannabis industry in Grand Rapids

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Amended articles in the Zoning Ordinance

Article 9: Use Regulations

Article 10: Transportation and Mobility

Article 12: Application and Review Procedures

Medical provisioning centers

Per the current Zoning Ordinance:

  • Any retailer applications that are not co-located within the IT district require Special Land Use approval.
  • Waivers granted in a previous application for a medical provisioning center do not transfer for recreational retailer applications.
  • No new cannabis retailer may obtain sensitive use waivers.

Timeline for Director Review applications

  • August 2020 – Equity Applicants and Tier 1 Applications Advancing Equity
  • September 2020 – Tier 2 and 3 Applications Advancing Equity
  • October 2020 – Tier 4 and 5 Applications Advancing Equity

Timeline for Special Land Use applications

Applications requiring Special Land Use will be ranked and queued for Planning Commission, with the first public hearings tentatively starting in October 2020.

Amended articles in the Licensing Ordinance

Chapter 105: Cannabis Related Municipal Licensing

Medical and recreational cannabis business licenses

Medical cannabis and recreational cannabis are considered separate land uses (even if they share the same parcel). This means that a local business license for each use is required to ensure operation.

Some recreational cannabis businesses needed a medical business license as part of their State prequalification during the application process; this extends to operations as well. All businesses that had this requirement need to keep their medical license in good standing to remain eligible for recreational operations.

July 16, 2020: City of Grand Rapids gives a presentation to the community ahead of the July 20, 2020 date to start receiving applications for cannabis uses eligible for Director Review.

August 21, 2020: City of Grand Rapids gives a presentation to the community ahead of the September 1, 2020 date to start receiving applications for cannabis uses requiring Special Land Use.