Recreational Cannabis

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Overview

In November 2018, the State of Michigan approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (MRTMA). This law allows the recreational possession and use of cannabis and the taxation of revenue from cannabis business in the state. Municipalities were allowed to adopt licensing ordinances that would allow business uses for recreational cannabis within its boundaries. The City Commission adopted an ordinance on October 8, 2019, effectively opting-in for the establishment for cannabis businesses in the city.

Following its values of Accountability, Collaboration, Customer Service, Equity, Innovation, and Sustainability, the City of Grand Rapids welcomes an industry that will provide opportunities for new business and also build a strong equity foundation for the development of our local community.

On this webpage, you will find information about the Cannabis Program of the City of Grand Rapids and supplemental resources from the Michigan Regulatory Agency.


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 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 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.


Cannabis Ordinance

The City of Grand Rapids Zoning Ordinance permits the following cannabis uses:

  • Grower
  • Processor
  • Secure Transporter
  • Safety Compliance Facility
  • Provisioning Center (medical) or Retailer (recreational)
  • Microbusiness

The City has two methods to review cannabis applications:

  1. Director Review: An administrative review done by the Planning Department with immediate effect upon approval. Only some uses are eligible for this method.
  2. Special Land Use: A process involving a Planning Commission public hearing.

The City of Grand Rapids Licensing Ordinance states that:

  • A business license is mandatory for all cannabis businesses
  • A business license is non-transferrable
  • A business license is needed for each cannabis use, in case of collocated or stacked operations

The licensing process is administered by the City Clerk's office, following an interdepartmental review and approval process.


Cannabis Applications

Below you will a table with the active applications for cannabis facilities in Grand Rapids:

View Applications


Application Process

Zoning Process

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

  • Round 1: July 20-31, 2020
  • Round 2: September 1-11, 2020
  • Round 3: October 20-30, 2020

Note: applications received outside the window will be processed after all applications submitted within the window are processed and scheduled for Director Review/Planning Commission.

The application materials are linked below:

Licensing Process

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

Fees

The City of Grand Rapids will charge a fee of $5,000 per cannabis use. For first-year applications this fee will include the zoning and licensing process and will be processed by the Planning Department. For license renewals this fee will be processed by the City Clerk. Cannabis Equity Applicants are eligible for fee discounts.


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.
  • September 29, 2020: City Commission approves amendments to the zoning ordinance for microbusinesses and facilities with established medical land uses.

Cannabis Social Equity Policy

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
  3. Circle of Concern: Equity, Justice, and Economy. Stakeholders 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


Sensitive Uses

The City of Grand Rapids has the following sensitive uses for cannabis businesses:

  • Childcare centers
  • Schools
  • Religious institutions
  • Publicly owned parks or playgrounds
  • Substance abuse disorder programs licensed by the State
  • Residential zone districts along the primary street frontage
  • Youth centers

On September 29, 2020, City Commission added youth centers as a sensitive use and defined them as:

  • "A government or nonprofit facility that offers regular, on-site programs and services primarily to persons 18 years of age and under and is used for said programs and services for a minimum of three (3) days a week year-round. Programs and services may include, but are not limited to, social, training, cultural, artistic, athletic, recreational or advisory services and activities and includes private youth membership organizations or clubs and social service teenage club facilities"

Waivers

On September 29, 2020, City Commission eliminated the waiver process for cannabis businesses.

Sensitive use waivers granted before September 29, 2020 for a medical provisioning center may be applied to the consideration of a recreational retail at the same location as part of the Planning Commission process.


Microbusiness

The Michigan Regulatory Agency defines microbusiness as:

  • "A licensed facility allowed to cultivate not more than 150 plants; process and package; sell cannabis to individuals 21 years or older; or transfer cannabis to a safety compliance facility."

The zoning requirements for microbusinesses are as follows:

Director Review in IT

  • 1,000ft from defined sensitive uses and residential Zone Districts

  • No separation distances from other cannabis facilities

Director Review in TCC and C Zone Districts

  • 1,000ft from defined sensitive uses and residential Zone Districts

  • 500ft separation distance from other cannabis facilities

Director Review in TOD and TBA Zone Districts when at least 500ft from a residential Zone District

  • 1,000ft from defined sensitive uses

  • 1,000ft separation distance from another cannabis facility

Special Land Use in TOD and TBA Zone district when less than 500ft from a Residential Zone District

  • 1,000ft from defined sensitive uses

  • 1,000ft separation distance from another cannabis facility

Licensing Ordinance


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.

Beginning March 1, 2021, the State will begin accepting applications from any applicant and will not require a medical business license prior to applying for a recreational use.

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.

October 15, 2020: City of Grand Rapids gives a presentation to the community ahead of the October 20, 2020 date to start receiving applications for cannabis uses from applicants with established zoning approvals using waivers.