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Recreational pot business ban a step away

Alexander Sinn • Nov 27, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Grand Haven Township is a step away from banning recreational marijuana facilities. 

On Monday night, the Township Board considered the first reading for an opt-out ordinance that would ban the sale of marijuana and public use in the township.

Approval of the ban will likely be considered at the board’s Dec. 10 meeting. 

Township trustees have previously agreed that an ordinance is an appropriate measure in response to the recent legalization of recreational pot, which was approved by Michigan voters Nov. 6. While the initiative was passed with 57 percent of the vote statewide, 57.6 percent of Ottawa County voters and 51.2 percent of township voters rejected the proposition.

Adults age 21 and older will soon be able to carry up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, including up to 15 grams of concentrate, and grow 12 plants at home.

However, municipalities have the option to limit or outright ban facilities from setting up shop, and the majority of municipalities in Ottawa County are considering such actions.

Grand Haven’s City Council approved a ban on facilities and public use at its meeting Nov. 19. 

Township Manager Bill Cargo clarified the pending ordinance would not prohibit individuals from cultivating or possessing marijuana, nor the sale of marijuana accessories or the individual use of marijuana on private property. Marijuana can also be transported within the township. 

The township currently receives about $6,000 to $7,000 annually in tax revenue from alcohol sales, Cargo said, and he expects the tax revenue from recreational marijuana would not be a major revenue source.  

Grand Haven residents Rebecca Neil and Jamie Cooper asked the township to consider allowing medical facilities now that pot is legalized statewide. Under the new Michigan law, a 10 percent tax on recreational pot will replace the current 3 percent tax on medical marijuana, which will not be taxed. 

Neil is a medical marijuana user herself, and said access to it is difficult for her and many others in Grand Haven, where medical facilities are banned. A holistic health care practitioner based in Grand Haven, Neil has expressed interest in opening her own medical marijuana facility. She said she considers marijuana among many viable forms of alternative medicine. 

“When you’re dealing with very sick people living on their last breath, you’re willing to look at all aspects,” she said. “This is a very viable one.” 

Cooper owns the marijuana industry consulting business Cannabiz Connection, and has been a part of efforts in recent years to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan. 

City ordinances and existing infrastructure make Grand Haven a less-than-ideal option for a medical facility, Cooper said, whereas there are suitable properties for such an operation in the township. Muskegon, which currently allows medical facilities, will likely take advantage of recreational facilities, she added. 

“I understand the reactive thing right now,” Cooper said of the city and township. “They have to opt out. But I hope that they keep their minds open for that possibility of it changing down the road.” 

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