Cities research pot options before Prop 1 vote

Elections

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — If Michigan voters decide next week to legalize recreational marijuana, cities could still place their own restrictions on sales.

Ronald Redick, a municipal administrative law attorney at Mika Meyers, told 24 Hour News 8 that leaders in several municipalities have turned to the Grand Rapids firm with questions about Proposal 1, which recent polls show more than 50 percent of voters say they would tick ‘yes’ on.

“The question that came up immediately is what is the scope of local regulation that’s allowed under the proposal,” Redick said.

Redick explained that the proposal gives cities, townships and villages the freedom to “opt out,” meaning they could ban or limit marijuana businesses in their area. Local leaders can also decide to charge marijuana businesses an administrative fee up to $5,000.

“If you (cities) do not want these type of new recreational facilities, you need to adopt an ordinance prohibiting them,” Redick said.

“What you could not do is make marijuana illegal in your jurisdiction,” he added. “It would still be allowable for persons 21 years of age or older to use and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in public and even more in their home.”

It’s a change from the medical marijuana facility regulations, in which municipalities had to “opt in” to participate.

Cities like Grand Haven have been working with a law firm to explore what power its city council will have should Proposal 1 pass. Pat McGinnis, the city manager, said it’s unclear if the council will decide to opt out or not, but he wanted a legal team to research its options so he could present possibilities after Tuesday’s vote.

McGinnis said city managers from about 60 other areas in Michigan are splitting the cost of a law firm providing them guidance. A lot of the questions come down to hammering out zoning ordinances.

“Where are we going to allow it? How many? Are we going to allow it near schools?” McGinnis listed.

He said that even if the proposal fails, he believes the discussion around recreational marijuana regulation has not been in vain.

“It’s obvious it’s happening across the country. It’s coming this way. It seems to be swinging towards legalization, so let’s be ready for it,” McGinnis said.

Voters can petition if their leaders decide to opt out or if they decide to allow marijuana sales, according to Redick.

The question of legalization will be decided during the Nov. 6 general election.

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