Webster Township opted out of the state’s new program for legalized medicinal marijuana at its October Board of Trustees meeting on October 18.
The Michigan Legislature passed a law expanding the scope of possibility for the growing, processing, distributing and selling or medical marijuana last month as an attempt to standardize the previous patchwork of regulations. But the law comes with a catch, as Webster Township Supervisor John Kingsley informed the Board of Trustees.
“A marihuana facility shall not operate in a municipality unless the municipality has adopted an ordinance that authorizes that type of facility,” the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act says.
This means that in order for a marijuana dispensary or growing operation to be legal, it must get approval from the local municipality they are in. This allows the cities, towns and townships of Michigan to regulate how much is grown, where dispensaries may operate and if the product can be shipped through their jurisdiction.
Or the township could do nothing. If nothing is done, then the production of medical marijuana remains illegal in that municipality. The township attorney asked for $500 before the meeting to write up the ordinance for the township.
“My personal suggestion might be to not write an ordinance, then we don’t have to deal with it,” Kingsley said.
After hearing that, nobody on the Board of Trustees said a word.
Municipalities in northwestern Washtenaw County in general are shying away from legalizing medicinal marijuana operations despite Lansing’s new law.
“Dexter Township hasn’t discussed the matter in several years and there are currently no plans to put it on a future agenda. However, that can change if and when our legal counsel advises us otherwise, or presents new information to us,” Dexter Township Supervisor Harley Rider said via email.
Scio Township has also opted out of creating regulations for medicinal marijuana, as has the City of Dexter.
“The City does not allow dispensaries in our ordinance and there is no plan to do so at this time,” City Manager Courtney Nicholls said.
Half of the country allows medicinal marijuana to one degree or another. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult use of recreational marijuana despite it still be a Class One controlled substance as far as Washington DC is concerned. California will be one of four states voting on whether to legalize recreational marijuana on election day.
Attempts to put a similar proposal on the Michigan state ballot on November 8 failed. In August, the Michigan Court of Claims through out over 200,000 of the 354,000 signatures that the marijuana legalization activist group MI Legalize collected because they were over 180 days old, according to the State Board of Canvassers.
MI Legalize has disputed this and they lost their lawsuit to try to get it on the ballot. At least 200,000 signatures are required to get a petition before voters.
The recreational marijuana industry is expected to net between $6.5 billion and $7 billion this year. Estimates from various news organizations and think tanks project it to grow to as large as $40 billion by 2020.