MUSKEGON – Two West Michigan cities, Muskegon and Grand Rapids, opted-in for adult-use cannabis on October 8.

City Commissioners in Muskegon voted on two ordinances that will bring recreational cannabis to the City. The first ordinance to opt-in follows the guidelines and language within MRTMA and includes licensing fees, the application process, permit renewal, and rationale for revocation. The ordinance takes effect on October 18.

The opt-in ordinance was approved in a 5-2 vote. Two weeks prior at the City Commission’s September 24 meeting, in the first reading Commissioner Debra Warren was a no vote. She reminded the City staff that she had asked them to create a social equity plan that would be part of the adult-use ordinance.

Warren was adamant that while always being in favor of medical marijuana, she would vote no unless a robust social equity plan was included in the ordinance. Staff complied and presented a social equity and expungement plan to the Commission at its work session on October 7. The effort pleased Warren enough to put her vote in the yes category. Voting no was Commissioners Byron Turnquist and Commissioner Willie German.

Muskegon’s second ordinance amended its original ordinance, which was created for medical marijuana only. The City will allow, within the district, these businesses: provisioning centers, growers, processors, secure transporters, and safety compliance. A smaller area within the overlay district allows for recreational marijuana licenses for retailers, microbusiness, designated consumption establishments, temporary marijuana events, growers, processors, secure transporters, and safety compliance facilities.

The footprint of the City’s “Marijuana Overlay District” was increased to include several streets near the original marijuana zone, thus increasing the overall acreage for marijuana businesses in the City of Muskegon. This ordinance also includes rules for marijuana businesses, including hours of operation, signage, street furniture (benches, for instance), decorative lighting and landscaping. Provisioning centers and microbusiness consumption lounges will be able to operate from 8 AM to midnight.

The vote on this was closer with Commissioners Dan Rinsema-Sybenga, German and Turnquist voting no. Rinsema-Sybenga was uncomfortable with the increased size of the overlay district and the location of some businesses on a major thoroughfare and within a half-mile of Muskegon High School.

“Tuesday’s vote reflects the City of Muskegon’s continued progressive and compassionate leadership when it comes to cannabis,” said Commissioner Kenneth Johnson who led and supported both medical and adult-use cannabis.

“The Muskegon City Commission was at the forefront of West Michigan in allowing medical cannabis facilities in our community, and more recently we’ve decided to allow recreational cannabis businesses, thereby honoring the wishes of city residents who voted strongly in favor of Proposal 1 last November,” Johnson said. “Furthermore, as a corollary to allowing the cannabis industry to take root and grow here, City Commissioners and staff are working to implement a robust, local social equity program to mitigate the lingering, harmful effects of cannabis prohibition on our citizens.”

In Grand Rapids, the City Commission also opted-in for adult-use recreational marijuana. The vote was unanimous. The Grand Rapids ordinance is a placeholder for Grand Rapid as it reviews and develops the specifics of the ordinance which it expects to do within six months.

“I’m thrilled that Grand Rapids City Commission listened to constituents and opted in to recreational/adult-use cannabis businesses,” said Tami VandenBerg, a Grand Rapids resident and co-chair of the West Michigan Cannabis Guild. “Now we need to work together to give local citizens a real chance of getting a license and implanting a city-wide equity initiative for communities that have been more negatively impacted by the war on drugs and marijuana prohibition.”

This story was written by Roberta King, founder of Canna Communication. For more information, contact her at