Citing economic growth, Councilman wants to allow many more pot businesses locally

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An ordinance amendment from City Councilman Brandon Betz could expand the cannabis industry in Lansing next year by eliminating the cap on the number of marijuana growing facilities, microbusinesses and consumption lounges that are allowed to open within city limits.

An ordinance passed by the City Council in 2019 allows for a maximum of 75 cannabis cultivation facilities in Lansing, with a built-in clause that reduced that limit to 55 facilities through attrition beginning this year. As of this week, 73 cultivation facilities were still growing and open for business — leaving no room for any additional companies to open within the city of Lansing.

Betz’ proposal, which is set to be introduced to the city Planning Board soon, would eliminate that cap on cultivation facilities and allow for an infinite number of growing operations to open in the city — just as long as they’re licensed by the city clerk and the state. The board next meets Dec. 7. Betz said he didn’t expect the measure to be referred to a Council committee till 2022.

“The real impetus for this is that we only have so many years before the federal legalization of cannabis, at which point the market is going to open up for nationwide economic competition,” Betz told City Pulse. “This is a pro-business approach that will open the door to more economic investment and allow Lansing to be much more competitive and welcoming to new businesses.”

The ordinance also allows for one cannabis consumption lounge and marijuana micro-business in each of the city’s four wards. None have yet opened for business.

Betz’ ordinance shift would allow for up to 50 licensed consumption lounges and microbusinesses across the city. The proposal would also erase language that prohibits microbusinesses from commercially zoned areas — allowing them to open on busier, commercial strips rather than just far-flung industrial land.

“I don’t want so much gatekeeping in the cannabis industry,” Betz explained. “These extreme limits could be sending the wrong message. I want people to know that Lansing is open for business, that we’re not going to stand in the way of allowing this industry to keep on growing.”

A microbusiness license allows for smaller-scale entrepreneurs to grow, harvest and process up to 150 of their own marijuana plants that can also be sold directly to customers on site. Betz said that allowing for more of them in Lansing could open the door to more small businesses — especially for the local “moms and pops” of the weed world without corporate cash to burn.

Betz’ proposal would not adjust the limitless cap on licenses for processing facilities, safety compliance labs or transportation companies. It also will not expand the city’s existing 28-shop limit on provisioning centers — an intentional decision that Betz labeled as a “political move.”

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