Communities struggle with pot decisions

By  | 

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -- Legal marijuana doesn't necessarily mean legal marijuana sales.

Communities all over Mid-Michigan are trying to figure out if they want to allow it within their borders.

When a city prohibits stores from selling medical or recreational pot, it's not always because they're against it.

Some deny it because they don't know what it means for their city.

"We would be running blind so, at this point, it's best to send the message that we're not interested right now," said Mason Mayor Russell Whipple. "Once the state has developed all of the regulations that would tell us how these things can be managed, then we could reconsider."

For cities that have opted in, there are other things to figure out.

"The issue is that yes we want to opt in, and yes we want to let a certain number of facilities in, but where the most appropriate location is and number of these facilities in the township," said Meridian Township Planning and Development Director Mark Kieselbach. "People are concerned with provisioning centers, being next to a church, school or daycare, and the negative aspect in having them in those locations."

On paper, the selling of recreational marijuana by a licensed facility comes with many benefits.

"We’re seeing a lot of interest in properties, especially those that may have sat vacant for a while, now there's interest in those," said Kieselbach. "The commercial operations and advantages of employment for people in the area is a benefit."

But since the state has no regulations in place when it comes to selling recreational pot, the economy and other benefits are nonexistent.

"Since there's zero benefit available right now, but there is potential negative, we thought it's best to avoid the negative," said Whipple.

The ballot proposal that legalized recreational marijuana last November allows cities and townships to ban dispensaries.

Elsie decided against allowing marijuana facilities in the village after the November votes were taken into consideration and discussions during several meetings made it clear residents were not interested, said Elsie Village Manager Shane Grinnell.

"We held several public hearings to discuss this ordinance and the only people we heard from were people that did not want it," Grinnell said.

Municipalities can’t ban people from using recreation or medical pot in their homes.

The Meridian Township board hasn't made a decision on recreational marijuana yet.

Trustees want to figure out the medical marijuana regulations first.