Council Says No to Opt-In Marijuana Operations

By CYNTHIA KMETT

You don’t see many 4-3 decisions by Troy City Council, but this time it was on the question of opting out of allowing five kinds of marijuana services in the city. Such services cannot be provided unless the local government chooses to “opt in.” Councilmembers Dave Henderson, Ethan Baker, Ellen Hodorek and Edna Abrahim voted in favor opting out and not participating in the any of the new marijuana activities allowed by the state’s amendments to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, adopted in December 2016 and only now going into affect.

Those who voted no on opting out of the act included Mayor Dane Slater, and Councilmembers Ed Pennington and David Hamilton. Rather than being in favor of opting in, their no votes seems to stem from the belief that at a meeting two weeks earlier there seemed to be a consensus to wait and see how other cities who opted in did under the act. It had been a move to kick the question down the road.

Councilman Dave Henderson wasn’t having any of it. He had strongly stated at the earlier study session that he opposed allowing the new state provisions to be allowed in Troy and last Monday he introduced a resolution stating that the city was choosing “the option not to allow medical marijuana facilities as defined by the new state licensing act to exist in Troy.”

The resolution pointed out that the use, possession, cultivation, manufacture or sale of marijuana remains a crime under Michigan and Federal laws.

In the resolution, Henderson stressed “that Troy City Council believes that the potential effects upon its citizens, by the use, sale, cultivation, production, and storage of medical marihuana in a commercial fashion could adversely affect the public safety, health and welfare of its citizens” if such facilities are allowed in the city.

Henderson notes that he has heard from both sides of the issue, but from residents in increasing numbers and they don’t favor medical marijuana caretakers going from a maximum of 72 plants to 1,500 plants. They don’t want marijuana dispensaries in the corner plaza and they don’t want trucks delivering marijuana on our streets. He also thought it was fair to tell caretakers now growing those 72 plants in a Troy commercial building that if they want to go to 1,500 plants, they might want to look at other cities which will allow such an operation.

Councilwoman Abrahim had previously noted that the state law seems to have some loopholes the city might not like. In addition, she said that by not deciding we were leaving the door open with the suggestion that Troy might say yes to opting in down the line. She wanted to send a “clear message” that she wasn’t going to opt in.

Councilman Baker, who also said he has heard from many residents opposing allowing these new businesses, added: “We don’t want Troy to be marijuana capital of Michigan.”

People in the community are stunned that council is even considering this, Councilwoman Hodorek noted. “This is not an industry that fits here.”

While Councilman Hamilton noted he didn’t yet have enough information to vote to opt in or opt out, he still wanted to wait at least nine months before making a decision.

Mayor Slater observed that he too wanted to wait and see how other communities did with the new businesses.