The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bessemer City Council passes medical marijuana ordinances in 3-2 vote


Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

THE BESSEMER city council Monday took a historic stand in authorizing, with a vote of 3-2, to authorize medical marijuana in the industrial park on the western edge of town. Rob Coleman and Linda Nelson, on the left in the photo voted against the measures, while Kathy Whitburn, John Frello, and Al Gaiss from left to right voted for the ordinances.


Bessemer - The Bessemer city council voted 3-2 to accept the Medical Marijuana Police Power Ordinance no. 356 and 3-2 to accept the Zoning Amendment Ordinance no. 357 Monday. The three voting for acceptance were Kathy Whitburn, John Frello, and Al Gaiss. Rob Coleman and Linda Nelson recorded votes against the two ordinances.

Frello voiced an opinion during the second reading that he was surprised at the lack of comments during public comment as he said he was prepared for the meeting to take a number of hours as people lodged their opinions with the city. Frello closed by expressing a hope, "we can put this behind us after the vote," because friendships and businesses have been threatened over the issue of medical marijuana because of people not sharing the same opinion.

Al Gaiss said, "We have to be one of the most informed city councils on the state of Michigan....the ordinances are crystal clear, clear as can be." Then he encouraged everyone in the room to read the ordinances for themselves and see how clear they are and that the issue is medical marijuana, which is not to be confused with recreational marijuana.

Kathy Whitburn said, "We cannot put a bubble over our bluffs. We have to look at viable industries and bring them here. We should be receptive to individuals coming into our community and we need to be more friendly."

The public comments from the audience were even more one-sided than the council's vote, with 8 speakers making their case for acceptance of the two ordinances and one person saying the town should wait until others have adopted the ordinances to see how those municipalities respond.

With adoption of the ordinances, the city of Bessemer is now in position to accept applications for medical marijuana facilities on December 15 or later. When the law was originally passed Dec. 20, 2016, it included a 360 day delay to allow the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to establish the licensing system required by the act.

According to the Municipality Township Association issue from January/February 2017, after Dec. 15 this year, if Bessemer receives an application for one of the medical marijuana facilities legalized in 2016, Bessemer will be asked by LARA to provide information for the license approval process to be completed.

In other news, it looks like the dirt roads and sections of town will begin getting paved October 16. The pavers schedule is tight and the weather has been uncooperative for much of the summer, but October 16, weather dependent, the pavers should begin laying down fresh pavement in Bessemer.


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