City Council says no to recreational marijuana

Alexander Sinn • Oct 2, 2018 at 10:00 AM

The Grand Haven City Council passed a resolution Monday opposing a November ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan. 

Polling in the state shows general support for the proposal among voters, but Grand Haven joins many municipalities urging citizens to vote no, citing negative public health and financial impacts.

Councilman Bob Monetza was the sole vote against the resolution, which was brought to the council by Mayor Geri McCaleb. Monetza said legalized marijuana is an inevitable trend, though he would have preferred a legislative bill rather than a ballot initiative.

“Ballot-initiated law is usually bad law,” he said. “It should be regulated thoughtfully, carefully.”

Councilmen Josh Brugger and Dennis Scott each shared firsthand accounts of family or friends who have had their lives negatively impacted by marijuana.

McCaleb said there are 200 organizations opposing the initiative, which she said would have “implications we don’t have any idea about.”

“Besides the other negative social things that happen is it creates a whole new bureaucracy in itself,” the mayor said.

Last year, the council did not opt in to allow medical marijuana facilities to operate in the city, and will have the option to opt out and ban recreational facilities if the proposal passes.

Abbey Oliver, who is with the Health and Productive Michigan group that is opposing legalized pot, urged the council at its Sept. 17 meeting to oppose recreational marijuana. She offered a resolution similar to those approved in other municipalities.

The resolution passed by the council cites the National Institute on Drug Abuse as finding 1 in 6 teens who use marijuana become addicted to it, and that more children enter treatment for marijuana abuse than all other drugs combined.

It also cites studies that suggest an increase in marijuana use among high school students; an increase in the potency of THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana; and an uptick in marijuana-impaired driver-related fatalities in Colorado, where recreational pot has been legal since 2014.

“It is not possible to foresee and mitigate all the associated risks and impact to our communities through the legalization of marijuana for general use,” the resolution states.

The Grand Haven Township Board is already pursuing an ordinance to ban recreational marijuana facilities from the township if the state proposal passes.

Recreational marijuana is one of three statewide proposals on the ballot Nov. 6.

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