2017-12-31 / Insight

Almont Township, Village split over marijuana businesses

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

ALMONT – After years of discussion, the village and township split over the subject of marijuana sales.

The village went first voting 4-3 in mid-November, with village council members Mary “Wez” Ligon, Melinda Steffler and Tim Dyke dissenting to “opt in” to the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA).

That means once the state finally finishes its licensing process, local businesses will be able to set up marijuana related businesses in the village, provided they can find a location that’s far enough away from churches and schools.

Lapeer County municipalities have been wrestling with what to do about marijuana since 63 percent of statewide voters approved the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act nine years ago.

The village still has to set up zoning regulations for businesses approved under the MMFLA.

The MMFLA creates five types of licensed medical marijuana businesses — growers, processors, secure transporters, testing facilities and dispensaries. However, before the state’s Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) will consider an application for any of the five licenses in a community, the community has to opt in to the provisions of the MMFLA.

Six days after the village council met, township trustees voted no unanimously to opting in.

So far, only the Village of Almont and the City of Lapeer have opted in. The other municipalities in the county have either voted to opt out or have done nothing, which as of Dec. 15 was the same as opting out.

Although Paula Givens, who identified herself as a “former federal attorney,” argued that opting in would generate new income for township government, noting that on top of existing sales tax, the act provides for a 3 percent excise tax, 25 percent of which goes to the local municipalities that have licensed operations, township trustees were unmoved.

Township supervisor Paul Bowman, said that while they could opt out by doing nothing, the township’s attorney had recommended “taking a definite position” and Bowman urged opting out.

In 2008, 63 percent of Michigan voters voted in favor of Proposal 1, which allowed caregivers to grow up to 72 plants for as many as six patients. Givens pointed out that people are already growing marijuana under the provisions of that legislation. Bowman said that would be unaffected by the trustees’ vote.

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