Sept. 8 2017 07:41 AM
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FRIDAY. Sept. 8 — The Lansing City Council on Thursday night adopted an ordinance limiting dispensary licenses in Lansing to 25, meaning many more will have to close.

However, no limit was set on how many licenses will be issued for testing facilities, grow operations, processing facilities and transport businesses. All licensed facilities will be subject to zoning regulations.

The ordinance was approved 5-3, with Kathie Dunbar, Judi Brown Clarke, Patricia Spitzley, Jessica Yorko and Tina Houghton voting yes,and Jody Washington, Adam Hussain and Carol Wood voting no.

The ordinance goes into effect 30 days after Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope publishes it.

Under the ordinance, Swope will establish the process by which dispensaries and other marijuana operations can apply. The ordinance lays out a scoring system for applications. Swope will be authorized to approve 20 licenses for dispensaries in a first round of applications and another five in a second round.

Spitzley, the Council president, said she expects Swope will move “expeditiously” on approving the initial 25 licenses.

The ordinance introduction says the regulations are necessary for economic development of the industry. Randy Hannan, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s chief of staff, told Council Thursday night that he expects that on top of the 25 dispensary licenses, the city will issue 20 licenses in the other industry areas. If that happens, he said, the city could see as much as $2 million in revenues from sales tax and licensing application fees.

Spitzley doubted there will be 20 licenses to non-dispensary operations.

“I just don’t think there will be the places for that, nor do I think that people will have the capital expenditures for that,” she said. Brown Clarke moved to adopt a version of the ordinance introduced on Thursday at the Committee of the Whole meeting. That version was unavailable to the public until over an hour into the Committee of the Whole meeting in which is was initially reviewed by the Council, and some Council members complained they did not have the opportunity to review the ordinance thoroughly. “That was an issue,” said Spitzley this morning in a phone interview. “We just didn’t have enough copies out there.”

The ordinance resulted from at least 18 months of meetings and nearly a dozen drafts of various regulatory schemes.

A City Pulse survey last spring showed there were about 60 dispensaries. Other estimates are higher.

Smiertka and Spitzley said they do not expect dispensaries to be targeted for closure immediately,

“There will be a phase in,” said Smiertka. “And I will exercise my prosecutorial discretion on this. It is unlikely I will be taking immediate actions.”

Spitzley was even more clear.

“I just don’t see Chief Yankowski doing raids to shut these places down,” she said, referring to Lansing’s police chief. “I just don’t.”

For more on this story, please see next week’s issue of City Pulse.