GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Election officials say recreational marijuana should become legal by Dec. 6 after the votes are certified by the state board of canvassers.
But while smoking and possessing it will be legal in Michigan, selling it will be left up to local municipalities, and many in West Michigan are already saying no.
Voters in Michigan gave their approval to recreational marijuana, but results varied city-to-city and county-to-county. For some of those municipalities, opposition was strong before the vote and has not subsided.
If you are curious about the attitude about legalized marijuana sales in Hudsonville, Mayor Mark Northrup is glad to fill you in.
“I don’t want marijuana in my community, I don’t wanna sell it, I don’t wanna see it, I don’t wanna smell it,” Northrup said. “You wanna do it in the basement of your house with your medical marijuana card, that’s your business.”
The city announced its intention in a Facebook post this week.
“Nothing good is going to come from this and we are putting a line in the sand – we don’t want it here, we don’t need it here,” Northrup said.
The Hudsonville City Commission is waiting until the certification, and then it will pass a resolution opting out of the sale of marijuana within the city limits.
The mayor says the commission is acting according to the wishes of their constituency, which voted 2-to-1 against the proposal – about 2,400 to 1,200.
“I am duty-bound to protect my community, the safety of my children, the safety on my streets,” the mayor said, adding that the claims it will generate revenue are hollow. “What is the message to our school children, we’re saying sell marijuana to pay for your schools, son and daughter, what is the message there, Barton? It’s a false message and it’s vulgar almost.”
It was 2007 before Hudsonville ended its ban on Alcohol sales in the city and 2017 before it ended Sunday sales prohibitions, so it is likely this will be perceived as classic Hudsonville.
“I don’t care -- then you tell me why do people want to come to Hudsonville? This is the most dynamic community in the state of Michigan right now,” Northrup said. “That didn’t happen by accident, that happened because we are a community of faith and of values. We don’t want marijuana here.”
Northrup said there will be an impact on public safety and cost of living.
“Our insurance rates are gonna be 20 percent higher – mark my word, a year from now – because of one reason, because there’s gonna be an increase in traffic accidents, greater fatalities on our roads, thank you very much for recreational marijuana,” Northrup said. “The impact far outweighs any revenue that’s gonna be generated.”
A number of communities have already moved to ban the sales including Cedar Springs, which banned sales a week before the vote, and then 60 percent of voters there supported the proposal.
In the 10 days since the proposal passed, Walker and Kentwood also are preparing proposals to ban sales and municipal leaders throughout Ottawa County have said they will ban sales.
Ottawa County soundly rejected Proposal 1, while in Allegan County it was margin of 2,000 out of 50,000 votes that said no.
Kent, Muskegon and Kalamazoo counties all said yes.
But even if the elected official pass a resolution banning sales, citizens can put an initiative on the local ballot to unban them.
"What we created in Proposal 1 is kind of a unique opportunity for democracy to exist in all the municipalities in Michigan on the question if we should have adult use marijuana in our communities,” said Robert Hendricks, who was part of the committee that helped draft Proposal 1.
He said he believes opposition is temporary.
“At some point, we will get to a tipping point in our democracy where almost everybody agrees prohibition doesn't work and the it will be easy,” said Hendricks.
It’s important to point out that these bans are on sales only, use and possession will still be decriminalized under state law for those 21 and older with specific provisions about where and how it can be used.
Hendricks said people should expect police and local officials to be strictly enforcing those provisions.
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