Editorial: Voters have spoken: They want pot
Nearly 60 percent of Michigan voters came out in support of recreational marijuana Tuesday. Yet now that Proposal 1 has passed, many local communities are already working to preempt its influence, just as they did with medical marijuana a decade ago.
We're pretty sure that’s not what most voters intended.
The proposal makes it legal for citizens to carry up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants for personal use as soon as early December. And it enshrines that right in the state constitution.
As we’ve seen with medical pot, many communities attempt to block stores in their neighborhoods. That has consequently pushed many of the shops into cities like Detroit. Only 108 of Michigan’s 1,773 cities, villages and townships have agreed to allow marijuana businesses in their communities, according to an unofficial list compiled by the state Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation.
The city of Warren, for example, has grappled with how to fairly license medical marijuana facilities, leading Mayor Jim Fouts to veto two City Council proposals before accepting a third proposal which will allow 10 marijuana storefronts in Michigan’s third largest city.
Fouts says he is frustrated with the lack of clarity in the new proposal and worries about the state law’s contradiction of federal law.
“My concern is that we need to clarify state law so we do not unleash marijuana production in our neighborhoods,” Fouts says. “I don’t want Warren to become the marijuana center of the Midwest.”
Proposal 1 does give a lot of control to local governments to regulate pot’s presence in their communities, even though citizens can still use it legally all over the state. Section 6 states that “a municipality may completely prohibit or limit the number of marihuana establishments within its boundaries.”
Two other powers granted to local governments are restricting public signs related to marijuana establishments and “regulating the time, place, and manner of operation of marihuana establishments and of the production, manufacture, sale, or display of marihuana accessories.”
Though 108 municipal governments currently allow some form of medical marijuana business, all but 25 have put a limit on the number of “provisioning centers” (i.e. storefronts) that are allowed. Some communities, like Marshall, place no caps on the number of marijuana growers but will not allow any provisioning centers. In Detroit, 75 provisioning centers are allowed to operate.
Currently operating medical marijuana dispensaries will be first in line to sell to the new consumer base.
Municipalities which do not allow marijuana businesses will miss out on tax revenue. Tax revenue will be used to cover the cost of the marijuana implementation and regulation along with $20 million annually donated to marijuana research. But the remaining revenue will be split up as follows:
Even after all the deductions, the tax revenue could provide millions of dollars to local governments. If communities don’t want marijuana businesses, they will be missing out on that benefit.
But most importantly, the voters have spoken. And they want access to recreational marijuana. While local leaders have the right to place parameters on the prevalence of pot shots, they shouldn’t try to prevent them altogether.