Saugatuck Twp. inches closer to allowing medical marijuana facilities –


SAUGATUCK TWP. —Saugatuck Township could soon see medical marijuana facilities — but not recreational marijuana ones.

The Saugatuck Township Planning Commission approved the regulation of certain medical marijuana safety compliance centers, provisioning centers and grow centers at its Monday night meeting, Feb. 25.

All commissioners except for Andrew Prietz voted in favor of amending and adding to the township’s ordinances to allow for several forms of medical marijuana facilities on Feb. 25. The ordinance amendments still need to come to the Saugatuck Township Board.

The planning commission also unanimously voted Monday to prohibit recreational marijuana facilities in the township. The statewide Proposal 1 that legalized the use and sale of recreational marijuana was supported by 1,432 (73 percent) of Saugatuck Township voters in the Nov. 6 election. Commissioners have said they can look at allowing it in the future.

About 30 people attended the meeting. Some voiced environmental concerns of growing operations, and a fear that medical marijuana facilities will easily be able to make the switch to recreational sales; but almost all who commented at the public hearing were in favor of medical marijuana facilities coming to the township.

Saugatuck resident Brenda Marcy said medical marijuana has helped her niece, Amber, who is quadriplegic. She spoke on behalf of her niece, who was unable to make the meeting.

“She struggles with pain and a certain type of muscle spasm,” Marcy said. “Her only other alternative to marijuana is opioids, and she can not function on them.”

The closest way for her niece to get medical marijuana is by traveling to Grand Rapids, which can be hard in poor weather conditions because she has a special vehicle that is close to the ground, Marcy explained.

“She would love to have it closer,” Marcy said. “She also wanted to speak to the gateway issue. She’s been doing this for four years, and has never had any desire to switch to another drug, and this has kept her from having to take opioids.”

Several other people spoke during the meeting about the benefits of medical marijuana either for themselves or family and friends.

“It’s extremely safe,” said Russ Wilkinson, of Saugatuck. “Tylenol is more dangerous than cannabis.”

Wilkinson said medical marijuana helps him tolerate pain, and deal with tremors and other medical ailments.

“I can’t imagine how many people in this community could use it,” Wilkinson said. “Availability is important.”

The types of facilities the commission approved are: grow facilities in areas zoned industrial, provisioning facilities only in areas zoned commercial C-3, and safety compliance facilities in areas zoned commercial C-1, C