Green-lit: Dowagiac opts-in to marijuana businesses

A local municipality has green-lit the path to a new industry within its borders.

The Dowagiac City Council on Monday unanimously approved an ordinance to authorize and regulate the operation of cannabis-related businesses within city limits.

City Manager Kevin Anderson said when officials opted out of allowing cannabis businesses in 2018, there wasn’t any specific opposition to the idea.

“Ultimately when this first came out, the council looked at it and said there was a lot of threat of litigation around it, there were a lot of bugs to be worked out by the state and we had a lot of other things in the community to focus on,” Anderson said. “So, we spent our time focusing on those and gave an opportunity for everything to settle down.”

Mayor Don Lyons said Dowagiac also sat back and learned from what other local communities went through. Niles, Buchanan, Cassopolis and Edwardsburg each opted-in prior to Dowagiac.

“We watched the angst that so many communities around us suffered through,” Lyons said. “The pros, the cons, all of the hype that went with it. We just said ‘our day will come.’ … Dowagiac citizens overwhelmingly supported it, so there was never that kind of an issue. It was just about ‘how are we going to consume our resources?’ And we felt we had better places to do it.”

Anderson said cannabis businesses will be allowed in highway commercial-zoned districts more than 1,000 feet from a school, as well as industrial-zoned areas.

Cannabis facilities permitted under the ordinance include growing, processing, transportation, retail, microbusinesses and safety compliance. Three permits for each type of facility will be authorized, and each will cost $5,000.

Designated consumption establishments, excess grower permits, marijuana event organizer permits and temporary marijuana event permits will not be authorized by the city.

Anderson said there is already a lot of interest from prospective businesses, but it will still be a few weeks before they are able to move forward with the next steps.


Tax revenue

When Dowagiac’s businesses eventually open, the door to more tax revenue will also open for the city. The Michigan Department of Treasury recently announced that $42.2 million will be distributed among 163 municipalities and counties as a part of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.

Local municipalities received the following state cannabis tax revenue amounts in 2021, based on number of licenses awarded.

  • Benton Harbor – $56,453.44
  • Buchanan – $282,267.20
  • Cassopolis – $112,906.88
  • Edwardsburg – $112,906.88
  • Niles – $169,360.32
  • Berrien County – $508,080.96
  • Cass County – $225,813.76

By Ryan Yuenger

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