The Columbia Township Board held a special meeting Wednesday evening (2/28) on allowing cannabis growers, processors, retailers and microbusinesses to operate in the township.  Currently those activities are prohibited in Columbia Township.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and receive public feedback on changes to the Columbia Township Zoning Ordinance that would allow some forms of that activity to take place.  The Zoning Ordinance was originally adopted on February 18, 2019.

In November, 2018, legalization of cannabis in Michigan took place through a ballot initiative, known as Proposal 1.  It was approved by a 56% majority.  It allowed adult use of the substance and the growing of 12 plants per individual.  But municipalities could ban commercial growing, processing, retailing, and microbusinesses.  Columbia Township took that step.

Formulating changes to the Zoning Ordinance began when the Columbia Township Planning Commission received a request to establish a cannabis microbusiness.  A cannabis microbusiness is a “ma and pa” operation where growing, processing, and selling take place at one designated location with a maximum of 150 plants.  The Commission believed further requests for larger operations could be forthcoming, so they worked on a plan that would anticipate those future possibilities.  What followed was two years of study, research and discussion by the Columbia Township Planning Commission.

What did their thought process included?  The proposed amendments to allow commercial activity were based on the possibility that if all commercial activity were banned, a local ballot initiative might pop up.  If passed by the voters, and depending on the ballot language, that could enable large industrial players to operate in the township and be far more extensive than desirable.  The concept was to allow some activity but to regulate it heavily and thereby discourage big players. So far, ballot initiative scenarios have not happened here, or in other municipalities.

Notice of this public hearing was mailed to residents who had responded to an earlier survey about roads and cannabis.  In this video, view comments from residents and others during public comment.  Some responses were edited for time.  Two speakers, Madilyn Hozpozel and Kurtis Townsley, hope to establish a cannabis microbusiness.

In this video, township trustees comment.

Though not part of the video, board members Cathy Hulburt (clerk) and Robin Tackett said this should be given more time and discussion before acting.

What do the proposed regulations look like?  Here is a partial list of the proposed amendments to Zoning Ordinance.

To read all proposed cannabis amendments to the Zoning Ordinance, please click here.  To review the entire Columbia Township Zoning Ordinance, click here.  Hint: to find a specific item in the Ordinance on a PC, click control+F and insert a keyword.

Public hearings on cannabis have been held prior to Wednesday night.  The Planning Commission held one on September 7, 2023.  The Township Board held another on December 5, 2022. To review it, please click here.