Cities snuff out future marijuana facilities


Although it soon will be legal for Michigan residents to use marijuana recreationally, some cities in the state are prohibiting businesses from selling it.

Kentwood and Walker have taken preventive steps to prohibit the purchase of marijuana within their city boundaries. Just days after Michigan residents went to the polls to vote in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana, the city of Kentwood proposed ordinance amendments to prevent the operation of marijuana businesses in the city.

Lisa Levandoski, a spokesperson for the city, said the Kentwood City Commission voted in favor of an amendment to the city code to prohibit marijuana establishments in the city as that term is defined in the recently approved Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. She added until regulatory guidance is provided by the state of Michigan, the city commission felt it would be prudent to proceed cautiously and adopt a “wait-and-see” approach. 

“As a city commission, it is our role to protect people and property,” Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley said. “We do not know at this time how this process will develop in Michigan, and we owe it to our residents to be cautious and thoughtful on how these establishments may or may not be introduced into our community.”

Although the mayor would rather wait and see how the law will play out across the state, Jamie Cooper, founder of Cannabiz Connection, said she is extremely disappointed in the actions the Kentwood city commissioners took by amending the city code.

“Fifty-six percent of Kentwood voters voted in favor of Proposal 1,” she said. “This is an example of elected officials making decisions against the people’s will. Not once did they ask for public feedback; instead, they chose to make a knee-jerk decision.”

Similar to Kentwood, city commissioners in Walker voted unanimously to prohibit marijuana facilities from opening in their city.

With the belief that voters would vote in favor of recreational marijuana, Walker Mayor Mark Huizenga said the city commissioners met with their attorney and their police department well in advance to talk about the positives and negatives of having marijuana dispensaries in Walker.

Huizenga said their decision was mainly based on the recommendations the Walker Police Department provided after it conducted research and communicated with law enforcement in the state of Colorado. Within the research that was conducted by the police department, the mayor said he noticed there was an “increase in the number of people going to rehab for addiction when marijuana was in play and accidents have increased.”

“We just want to make sure our workplaces will not be subjected to that,” Huizenga said. “We want to make sure that our voters are safe and (Walker) is a good place to live and work. We have a lot of manufacturing in the city of Walker, and many of those jobs require people to be in hazardous situations. So, we want to make sure that they are not going to be harmed in their place of work.”

Scott Greenlee, president of Healthy and Productive Michigan, said he applauds the steps cities and townships are taking to prevent marijuana businesses from opening in their communities.

“Obviously, with the way the law is written, they are going to be stuck with people being able to possess and use in accordance to the new law … but they are able to opt-out of any business type of situation like retail to grow,” he said.

Greenlee said he believes 70-85 percent of cities in Michigan will opt-out of having marijuana facilities within their jurisdiction because the money from the sale of marijuana will not compensate for the increase issues the legalization of marijuana will cause.

“It is great to say that we are going to take in $100 million per year or $200 million per year or whatever their projection was during the campaign, but at the end of the day, those are gross projections,” he said. “They are not net actuals. So, even if that is the case, in terms of $100 million taken in, what does it cost us to set up an entire new state department, what does it cost law enforcement, what does it cost us to provide treatment for increased addiction like rehab and prevention services? So, there is a whole other side to the balance sheet like there is to other things.”

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