Marijuana Business License Update

Posted In: News, Local, State,   From Issue 904   By: Greg Schmid

29th October, 2020     0

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency has announced that they will start to accept State Marijuana license applications on March 1, 2021, ten months before the scheduled opening of the market to applicants who do not already have medical marijuana licenses. This timing opens the market up for  Adult Use licenses available to everyone as of that date and promises to give newcomers a good chance to succeed in Saginaw.

The City of Saginaw has enacted an ordinance to allow Adult Use Marijuana Establishments to operate within carefully defined zoning and spacing parameters within the city, and the first license applications are to be accepted beginning Jan 4, 2021. However, license applicants will need to have completed the necessary Step 1 state license pre-approval process with the state before they apply for a city license.

The best practice is to have plans go through the site plan review process prior to the licensing process, because that cost is less and will be a determining factor for if the establishment is allowed. November 24, 2020 is the first Planning Commission meeting to begin the planning commissions review of site plan applications. Because of the public notices that need to be sent out prior to a meeting, the application would need to be submitted 20 days prior to whichever meeting you want to be reviewed.

The ordinance does not strictly limit the number of such marijuana establishments per se, but the zoning and spacing restrictions, and the requirement of Special Approval through the city Planning Commission, will limit the eligibility for establishments and create a first-come first-served pecking order for proposed establishments.

Even though property is zoned properly, spacing requirements will keep MJ establishments at minimum, due to required distances from pre-existing “sensitive uses” established by city council. These sensitive use buffer zones will be measured from the lot line of the sensitive use to the closest edge of the building proposed as a marijuana establishment. Absent a variance, which requires the consent of the sensitive use owner, Marihuana establishments will not be located within the following distances from sensitive use properties:

  1. One thousand (1,000) feet of a public or private K-12 school;
  2. Two hundred fifty (250) feet of a publicly owned park or playground;
  3. One hundred (100) feet of a church or other place of worship;
  4. Five hundred (500) feet of a hospital;
  5. Two hundred fifty (250) feet of a halfway house or other transitional housing operated or licensed by the state or federal government; and
  6. Five hundred (500) feet of another marihuana establishment location.

The city has taken the trouble to identify locations that are within allowed zoning categories and not too close to the sensitive uses listed above. It is posted online. Keep in mind that due to the spacing requirements of 500 feet, that applications will be time stamped to give priority to applicants who file first.

The first step for interested applicants is to submit a site plan for your location. Site Plan Review Form can be found on the City’s Web site:

A site plan is a development proposal that includes a set of scale engineering drawings and specifications about the location as it is would appear when open for business, including parking, driveways, drainage, lot size, building dimensions and layout, and many other details that go into the determination that a site is suitable. An applicant should enlist the help of professional engineers in the site planning review process. The application must be submitted at least 20 days prior to a Planning Commission meeting, and they meet on the 4th Tuesday of each month.

After Jan 4, 2021 an applicant can submit its application to the city, which must include the documents submitted in the applicant’s state MRA pre-qualification application, and the state pre-qualification approval letter. The city is preparing forms for this purpose, and the application must include all the same plans as the state facility license application will need. Once the application is reviewed and approved, the applicant gets a provisional license, and must submit a building permit application and a full set of construction documents to the planning and zoning department for approval, then be inspected locally.

Finally, the applicant can file a Facility License Application with the MRA. For this the applicant will submit its facility location plan along with business plans for inventory and recordkeeping, technology used for seed-to-sale tracking, marketing plans, operations plans, staffing plans, and security plans including surveillance cameras covering everywhere inside and all entrances outside. This state must approve or deny this application within 90 days of submitting it, and so this step is not undertaken until the applicant is sure they can pass a final inspection withing 60 days of submitting the application. When the application is filed with the state, the first next step is to submit all building plans to the bureau of Fire Services (BFS), which takes about 10 days.

Interested applicants should call Robert Gollin at the City Planning and Zoning Department (759-1308) to ask about your location. After that, hire an engineer for your site plan process, and an attorney for your licensing application. If you are cash strapped, you may qualify for state licensing discounts under the Social Equity provisions of the Michigan Regulation and Tax Marijuana Act (MRTMA) if you are a city resident, have a past marijuana conviction, or are a “caregiver grower.” These provisions were included in Proposal 1 as a way to encourage communities disproportionally impacted by past Marijuana Prohibition laws, and can really help small businesses who would otherwise be at a disadvantage getting started.



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