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Proposed Amendment re: Marihuana Establishments

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On November 7, 2023, Birmingham residents will vote on a proposed amendment to Part II of the Birmingham City Code, Chapter 26 – Businesses, Article XII – Marihuana Establishments. The following Q&A provides information to educate the community about the proposed amendment and language residents will see on their ballot.

Is marihuana legal in Michigan?
Yes. Medical marihuana is now legal in 39 states, and recreational marihuana is legal in 21 states. The use of both medical and recreational marihuana is legal in Michigan. In 2018, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA) created the law that allows the legal use and possession of recreational marihuana for persons over 21 years of age.

Did Birmingham pass a law prohibiting marihuana establishments within the City?
Yes. The City of Birmingham previously passed a law which completely prohibited marihuana establishments. However, through the MRTMA, citizens may petition to initiate an ordinance that allows marihuana establishments with the opt in ballot initiative regardless of the City’s current opt out approach. An outside entity can control the language and may draft ordinances and proposals for a large number of marijuana facilities (requiring only a small number of supporter signatures) to place on the ballot. If passed, the outside entity would control the ordinance, how the qualifications occur, etc. Residents may not realize voting in favor of the outside entity’s proposal provides them with this control.

What would the proposed ordinance amendment allow in terms of marihuana establishments in Birmingham?
If approved, the ordinance would allow for one (1) medical marihuana facility and one (1) recreational marihuana establishment to operate in three potential zoning areas: at the southeast corner of Maple and Cranbrook; in the Triangle District, off Woodward, south of Maple and east of Adams but inclusive of Adams Square; and in part of the Rail District. View a map showing areas for potential locations at www.bhamgov.org/mhmap. No more than two locations would be selected, and all areas would be contingent on future zoning, permitting, a special land use permit and land owner consent.

Why is this ordinance amendment going on the ballot?
The City feels voters ought to decide whether to amend the Birmingham City ordinance which prohibits the sale of marihuana within the City of Birmingham. Should voters choose to pass the ordinance amendment, the City, rather than an outside entity, could have reasonable control over ordinance language and any amendments, as well as control over marihuana regulations within its borders. It would give the City time to process and adjust to changes on its own terms and regulations. If the ordinance amendment does not pass, marihuana establishments will remain prohibited in Birmingham.

If the proposed amendment does not pass, what is the potential impact on future marihuana establishments in Birmingham?
If the ordinance amendment does not pass, marihuana establishments will remain prohibited in Birmingham. However, through the MRTMA, an outside entity (such as a citizen representing a marihuana business) may petition to initiate an ordinance for a future election that allows marihuana establishments in Birmingham, regardless of the existing City law prohibiting marihuana establishments. As stated previously, the outside entity could propose that a large number of marihuana establishments be permitted in the City, and if passed by the voters in a future election, the outside entity would have control over the terms, regulations and qualifications pertaining to the marihuana establishments. It should also be noted that a citizen or outside entity could petition to initiate an ordinance that could completely ban the sale of marihuana in Birmingham. The City is not permitted to do that, but a citizen may.

Where can I view the proposed changes to the ordinance?
View the proposed ordinance changes at www.bhamgov.org/proposedchanges.

How can I learn more about the rationale for placing this proposed ordinance amendment on the ballot?
Follow the links below to listen to in-depth conversations between City Attorney Mary Kucharek and the City Commission.
February 13, 2023 – City Commission Workshop - Marihuana Ordinance
April 24, 2023 – City Commission Meeting
July 24, 2023 – City Commission Meeting

What language will I see on the November 7, 2023 ballot?

Ordinance Amending Prohibition of Marihuana Sales
Shall the Birmingham City Code ordinance, Chapter 26 – Businesses, Article XII, which currently prohibits the sale of marihuana in the City of Birmingham, be amended to authorize and allow one (1) medical marihuana facility and one (1) marihuana recreational establishment to operate in the City of Birmingham?