2018-12-06 / Front Page

Communities nix recreational pot

By Eric Carlson
of the Enterprise staff

Local units of government throughout Leelanau appear to be eager to “opt out” of allowing commercial marijuana related establishments and marijuana facilities anywhere near them.

Following voter approval of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Michigan last month, local cities, villages and townships are considering whether they will allow people to go into business producing, processing, transporting or selling pot on a commercial basis.

This is not to be confused with efforts to establish medical marijuana facilities. State regulations based on voter approval of medical marijuana in 2008 have gone into effect only recently. It could be another couple of years before detailed state regulations are put into place related to recreational marijuana businesses.

As of today, Dec. 6, however, the use of recreational marijuana has been legalized – meaning you can smoke or otherwise ingest pot without getting into a world of trouble with the cops unless you’re doing something you should never do while high, like driving. You can even begin growing a limited number of marijuana plants on your own property for your own use under certain restrictions.

But if you plan to go into the “marijuana” business anytime soon in Leelanau County, you’ll quickly run into some legal roadblocks.

(Incidentally, the spelling of “marijuana” comes from the spelling used in state law and last month’s referendum.)

Even before voters approved Proposal 1 last month, the Solon Township Board adopted a resolution to pursue an “opt out” ordinance if the measure passed. According to Solon Township Clerk Shirley Mikowski, township officials expect to work with their attorney to adopt an ordinance this month.

In some cases, local municipal officials say they are pursuing “opt out” ordinances because if they do not anyone will be able to apply to open a marijuana business within the municipality before the state is able to put detailed regulations in place outlining rules for how those businesses should operate.

Tonight, for example, the Village Council in Suttons Bay will hold a special meeting to consider an “opt out” ordinance.

In a memo for the Village Council, Village Manager Rob Larrea explained that “there are many unknown factors associated with the new (marijuana) law which justifies for the time being a ‘wait and see’ approach.”

Until the state legislature adopts detailed guidelines for marijuana businesses following passage of Proposal 1, local municipalities are putting the establishment of such businesses on “hold” with passage of “opt out” ordinances.

The Michigan Municipal League (MML) and the Michigan Townships Association (MTA) have provided draft ordinances to their members statewide, which many local municipalities contemplate adopting in the coming month.

Shortly after last month’s election, the Glen Arbor Township Board adopted an “opt out” ordinance that will take effect this week, according to clerk Bonnie Quick.

The Cleveland Township Board agreed on Nov. 13 to consider an “opt out” ordinance recommended by the MTA and the township attorney at its Dec. 11 meeting.

Similarly, the Centerville Township Board discussed the issue at its Nov. 14 meeting and plans to consider adopting an ordinance at its regular monthly meeting on Dec. 12.

Kasson Township Supervisor Greg Julian said that members of his township board “have always been opposed to allowing stupefying drugs” to be produced and distributed in the township on a commercial basis for either medical or recreational purposes.

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