Flint, MI—In a unanimous vote, Flint City Council adopted a new marijuana ordinance, avoiding the potential of losing the city’s marijuana business regulations altogether.

Since the passage of the city’s new zoning code in July, the council has been on a tight deadline to also adopt a new marijuana ordinance. That’s because, as planning department officials warned at the time, the updated zoning code stands to overwrite Flint’s current marijuana ordinance when it goes into effect on Oct. 29, 2022.

“If the marijuana code is not adopted and published properly, in order for it to go into effect on October 29, the city will not have a functioning marijuana ordinance,” said Assistant City Attorney Joanne Gurly at the Oct. 10 Flint City Council meeting. “Therefore, the zoning—the Planning Commission, will not be able to approve applications for marijuana retailers, growers, all of those different entities.”

During the meeting, Gurley and Flint’s Planning and Development Suzanne Wilcox outlined some of the changes between Flint’s current marijuana ordinance and the new version, which include the addition of a Class A Microbusiness License, extending possible hours of operation from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and changing numbering and naming to create consistency between the ordinance and Flint’s updated zoning code.

During discussion, councilmembers asked questions about why certain changes were made.

“Did you guys do any research to see what the hours of operation [are] of dispensaries in other areas?” Councilman Quincy Murphy inquired.

“From what we were able to gather, Flint’s dispensaries and retail outlets seem to close a couple hours earlier,” said Gurley. “So that’s why it was extended to nine to be, you know, in unison with some of the surrounding communities.”

Flint City Council President Dennis Pfeiffer said that while he would vote in favor of the ordinance since there were no “substantial changes” that he directly opposed, he doesn’t support the ordinance overall.

“I think everybody knows that I’m against it. I’m against marijuana,” Pfeiffer said. “We don’t get our fair share of money, and it’s all out-of-town people coming in opening these businesses.” 

Pfeiffer said he had “made no secret” of his stance regarding marijuana businesses, but he would approve the updated ordinance anyway, calling it “the will of the people.”

Council voted 8-0 in favor of the new marijuana ordinance. Councilman Eric Mays was absent for the vote.

A breakdown of specific changes to Flint’s marijuana ordinance, along with explanations from Assistant City Attorney Joanne Gurley, can be found here.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....