·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

Michigan Towns Turn Down Recreational Marijuana Businesses

— November 20, 2018

In early November, Michigan became the tenth state in the union to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by most adults.

Proposal 1, passed during the state’s midterm election, is set to see businesses licensed for the commercial sale of marijuana within the next one to two years.

But despite passing by double digits, some Michigan communities are already beginning to rebel against the possibility of having cannabis-based businesses within their borders. Monroe Township became one of the first to opt out of the marijuana industry in early November, passing an ordinance against Proposal 1 a day before elections.

Monroe Township isn’t alone in its dissent, either. The Detroit suburbs of Troy and Pinckney have also ‘signaled’ their intent to pass on pot. reports that opt-outs and worries have raised new questions on how long communities have to decide on whether they’re willing to tolerate commercial cannabis enterprise.

Unlike the state’s ‘opt-in’ medical marijuana industry, MLive writes, towns and cities wishing to keep marijuana shops away have to explicitly opt out. Residents who disagree with any Proposal 1-related ordinances—whether in favor or against its implementation—have until the “next regular election” to collect signatures and trigger a local referendum.

Marijuana leaf; image by ZILL NIAZI (Own work), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes.
Marijuana leaf; image by ZILL NIAZI (Own work), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes.

What’s meant by the “next regular election” is apparently a source of concern for many community leaders. The Michigan Municipal League says what the phrase means could vary depending on each community’s charter.

Jennifer Rigertink, legislative association with the MML, said Proposition 1’s wording is “as clear as mud.”

“There’s definitely been a lot of questions and some of the answer is ‘Well, we think this what it meant, but until it’s litigated, we won’t know for sure,’” she said.

But notes that supporters of Proposal 1 don’t seem as confused about its language. If anything, many claim that the initiative’s wording is clearer and more concise than the state’s 2008 legalization of medical marijuana.

“We’ve learned the lessons of the 2008 law; we’ve learned the lessons of all the nine other states who have passed this law,” Josh Hovey, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, said.

Hovey said Proposal 1 is written so that “no community is forced to have a business that they’re not comfortable with.”

Instead, Hovey says, “Prop 1 forces communities to specifically take action and determine whether they want these businesses or not.”

And community leaders in localities like Monroe say they’re not necessarily opposed to having marijuana businesses within their borders—for them, it’s more a matter of practicality than an attempt to police morals.

“We thought it would be easier to opt out for the time being until we had more information,” Monroe Township City Manager Vince Pastue said.

Pinckney community attorney Amy Salowitz proposed a similar logic, urging the village’s leaders to opt out for the time being.

“The conversation was: It’s better to opt out now while the whole process is being created by the state and you can always opt in later,” Salowitz explained.

In some cases, city councils have created ordinances against recreational marijuana facilities or failed to take any action, despite the majority of their own residents voting in favor of Proposition 1. MLive gives the example of Jackson, which last week put forward a vote on allowing medical and cannabis companies within the city.

That endeavor failed after a split vote, prompting Jackson spokesman Aaron Dimick to say, “It failed at its first reading, meaning it will not be taken up against in its current form.”


Michigan communities rebel against marijuana business

Michigan results for every midterm race

Union Township plans to vote on opting out of recreational marijuana

Join the conversation!