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Grand Rapids may soon give green light to recreational marijuana dispensaries 

click to enlarge STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling

Recreational marijuana dispensaries in Grand Rapids may open months ahead of schedule.

The city commission voted in March to delay until Oct. 20 the application process for dispensaries and other recreational cannabis businesses. But now commissioners plan to vote Tuesday on allowing existing medical cannabis businesses to apply for a recreational license.

Under the accelerated schedule, recreational marijuana dispensaries could begin opening this summer. If approved, Grand Rapids would be the largest city in the state to allow recreational marijuana sales.

The Detroit City Council temporarily banned recreational pot businesses at the last minute in 2019. The council wants to create an ordinance that will guarantee that Detroiters have an opportunity to get involved in the blossoming industry. Council members expected to lift the moratorium on March 31, but without a plan, the ban is still in effect.

Voters overwhelming supported the legalization of recreational marijuana in November 2016. But since then, about 80% of the state’s communities have imposed bans on recreational dispensaries. Some of the bans are expected to be lifted after community leaders have an opportunity to examine the industry in action.

Unlike medicinal cannabis, recreational marijuana has a 10% excise tax and a 6% sales tax. Excise tax revenue goes to local governments, schools, and roads. Recreational marijuana sales are expected to top $150 million in sales and excise taxes in the 2020-21 fiscal budget, which begins in October, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. By 2022-23, the agency projects the tax revenues will reach $262 million.

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