Three Rivers Considers Cannabis Lounge Ordinance Expansion

September 15th, 2023 Legislation & Policy Updates
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Three Rivers city officials are deliberating an expansion to the existing marijuana ordinance that could pave the way for cannabis lounges. If greenlit, these lounges will find a home in the heart of the central business district, encompassing downtown.

The push for this revision stemmed from a petition spearheaded by Daly Broekema, the proprietor of Daly Dope dispensary. Current regulations hindered her expansion aspirations. "The existing ordinance focused mainly on retail operations and safety protocols. There wasn't a definitive 'no' to lounges; they just weren't included," Broekema noted.

After a 5-1 initial approval by the city commission, Broekema is a step closer to transforming the third floor of a historic building on Portage Avenue. She envisions a split usage: part social lounge, operational during regular business hours, offering a haven for people to enjoy food and non-alcoholic beverages. She sees this as a valuable setting for patrons to responsibly and legally consume cannabis, especially those who wish to avoid consumption at home or in public. "Many individuals, including parents, seek an alternative to consuming at home. They neither want to resort to their cars nor break the law by consuming publicly," Broekema emphasized.

The additional space is designated for events and educational initiatives, introducing cannabis fundamentals and safe consumption practices. Broekema said, "Despite the burgeoning cannabis industry, misconceptions persist. My aim is to demystify and destigmatize."

However, not all officials share her enthusiasm. City commissioner Pat Dane voiced significant reservations, largely due to marijuana's federal status. "I'm sworn to uphold the law. How can we justify introducing lounges for public smoking when it remains federally illegal?" Dane questioned.

Broekema counters by highlighting the legal status of recreational marijuana at the state level. She's eager to address and correct misconceptions that overshadow the cannabis industry. "Many perceive cannabis merely as a misused recreational drug. I intend to rectify that perspective through education," she added.

A public hearing for the proposal's follow-up reading is slated for Tuesday, September 19th. Should the ordinance be ratified and implemented, Broekema anticipates launching the lounge by summer 2024, subject to necessary permits.

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