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Grand Haven Township plans to ban pot businesses

Alexander Sinn • Nov 13, 2018 at 7:00 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — Less than a week after Michigan voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, the Grand Haven Township Board has agreed to bring forth an ordinance to ban marijuana facilities.

Township Supervisor Mark Reenders said the township is among nearly all municipalities in Ottawa County on board with banning marijuana businesses.

While voters statewide gave the ballot initiative about 57 percent support in the Nov. 6 election, the measure was less popular in Ottawa County (57.6 percent voting no) and Grand Haven Township (51.2 percent said no).

Banning the marijuana industry in the township will require two ordinances — one to opt out of allowing marijuana establishments under the state law and another to amend the township’s Zoning Ordinance.

A first public reading of an ordinance is planned for the next township meeting on Nov. 26.

Recreational marijuana retailers may not open for business in the state until spring 2020, as the state Legislature still has to craft policies and regulations for the new industry. Township Manager Bill Cargo said he expects the potential for controversy in the Legislature may delay the process even further. Potential tax revenue from the pot industry would be minimal locally and not make an impact for several years, he added.

Possession and usage of marijuana will be legal 10 days after the election is certified by the state, after which individuals ages 21 and older can carry up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana flower and 15 grams of concentrate, including up to 10 ounces and 12 plants at home.

Municipalities cannot ban the possession, usage or transportation of pot, but marijuana will remain banned at the federal level, and illegal on public school campuses, federal property and through delivery by the U.S. Postal Service.

Township Trustee Ron Redick said he believes alcohol and cigarettes are more hazardous substances than pot. While he and the full board agreed to opt out before the law is enacted, he said the township could pass an ordinance in the future to allow marijuana facilities.

Redick noted that only micro retailers, Class A growers and secure transporters will be granted new use licenses in the first year. Existing medical marijuana facilities can also be licensed for recreational sale initially.

Reenders agreed that the township could reconsider the option in the future after the law has been tested out by other municipalities.

“If the state gets its hands over it and controls it, then the township can look at changing it,” he said.

Cargo said the township has several options regarding marijuana facilities, including limiting the number of operations or restricting them to specific zones. The board took these options off the table in favor of a full ban. 

After a first hearing this month, an ordinance banning recreational marijuana businesses in the township could be approved Dec. 10.

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