SPRINGFIELD — Josh Farrow stood in front of elected officials, nearly four years after both his dispensary and their municipal office were raided, ready to get Happy Daze back up and running. 

The decision, however, would ultimately lie with Springfield, a city seemingly hesitant to again embrace the medical marijuana industry.

“I can get the license when it’s illegal, but now that it’s legal, I might not be able to get a license,” said Farrow, whose court case was dismissed. “I would just ask you take this into consideration.”

City Council on Monday voted 5-1 against directing its attorney to draft an ordinance specifying what, if any, medical marijuana operations would be allowed in Springfield. The council unanimously shot down a motion that would have postponed a decision.

Councilmember Linda Hoover voted in favor of the resolution, and Councilmember Tom Riley was absent.

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State law allows municipalities to choose whether to allow all, some or none of the five operations that are eligible for licenses when the process begins in December. In addition to dispensaries, other permissible operations are growers, processors, transporters and safety testing facilities.

If cities and townships decide against adopting an ordinance, then the operations are prohibited.

“If we don’t support this resolution, it doesn’t mean something can’t be done in the future,” Councilmember Art Hollingsworth said before casting his vote. “I don’t think there is enough information available for us to start the process.”

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City Manager Nathan Henne said it costs $180 an hour to pay an attorney to create an ordinance. The issue won’t be revisited unless the council decides enough information has been gathered and directs the city manager to move forward, he said.

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Springfield City Council voted against paying an attorney to draft a medical marijuana ordinance. (Photo: Jennifer Bowman/The Enquirer)

 

Springfield previously allowed dispensaries, but those facilities were raided in 2013 after state police alleged they were operating illegally. The city has since repealed its medical marijuana ordinances.

While some cases against dispensary owners are still pending, many have been dismissed.

Several municipalities in Calhoun County have launched discussions over medical marijuana: Battle Creek held a workshop but has not considered an ordinance; Emmett Township is expected to take a vote next month on an ordinance that allows all medical marijuana operations; and the city of Marshall voted June 2 to allow everything except dispensaries.

Medical marijuana lobbyists and prospective business owners have attended the meetings in hopes of persuading city officials to consider the economic benefits and improved legal access to marijuana.

“We’re not voting on whether or not medical marijuana is going to be in the community,” Seth Miller told Springfield officials Monday. “It’s already in the community. We’re here for regulation. We want to be treated like any other business. And we want safe access for patients.”

Contact government reporter Jennifer Bowman at 269-966-0589 or jbowman@battlecreekenquirer.com. Follow her on Twitter: @jenn_bowman. Listen to the podcast she co-hosts, The Jump Page, at soundcloud.com/thejumppage.

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