MARQUETTE, Mich. — Three commissioners are prepared to vote for a potentially permanent or long-term ban on commercialized cannabis establishments. A majority of voters disagree with a ban.

The commissioners say they’re confident Marquette will eventually allow cannabis commercialization, so I am offering them a compromise to keep them true to their word and their agendas transparent.

Make them vote yes or no only on a temporary ban. Don’t vote on a resolution that permanently or longterm bans cannabis establishments. Don’t kick down the opportunity to opt back in to another future hypothetical commission. If commission feels we must opt out, I disagree. Voters want to embrace cannabis establishments. But if commission feels they mustn’t right now, make the effects of an opt out only temporary.

Write into the resolution today the optout would last for the next 10 months while we work to formulate city regulations.

Automatically and immediately on Dec. 7, the city reverts to opt in. There is then no reason to revisit or continue opting. Like voters wanted, we’re henceforth in.

When compared to the optout as written, this resolution is more deserving of an up or down vote.

As Marquette develops regulations, ordinances, and possible taxation for cannabis commercialization, should we…

  • Opt-out, potentially permanently banning establishments, and revisit opting in at a later date?
  • Opt-out temporarily and prohibit establishments until Dec. 7?
  • Stay automatically opted in and develop regulations of our own?

Let your voice be heard Feb. 25, 2019 at 6 p.m. You may speak for three minutes during public-comment. The hearing is in Commission Chambers at Marquette City Hall on Baraga Ave.

OPT OUT

The Marquette City Manager and City Attorney have recommended to city commission they opt-out of cannabis commercialization in the City of Marquette. This includes dispensaries and manufacturing. The rationale is they’re doing it out of an abundance of caution and “protecting” fearful citizens until the city can come up with regulation aligning with the state of Michigan. They want to “buy time.” goo.gl/b4bxXu

OPT IN

The counter-argument is that opting out is unnecessary and potentially permanent. All cities are automatically opted in. Opting out is a brash, rash reactionary response to Proposal 1, for which 62% of voters cast their ballots. Undoing this perpetuates a negative connotation around cannabis that no longer aligns with the will of the people.

As of last December, the State of Michigan started counting down on a one- year deadline before they will develop regulations for commercialization. Before approx. Dec. 7, 2019, no commercial business can legally sell cannabis products.

THE COMPROMISE

A compromise could be for the city to opt-out until Dec. 7; to build into the legal framework of the proposal something forcibly temporary. The language of the compromise could state that immediately and automatically on Dec. 7, the city returns to ‘Opt In.’ In the next ten months, commission diligently works to develop adjustable city regulations that fit Marquette.

To be clear, if I was so honored to be on commission right now, I would not vote in favor of a temporary or permanent opt out. I believe we have an obligation to citizens to remain opted in and all-the-while work hard to come up with our own city regulations. But, to keep opt-outers true to their word, THE COMPROMISE is the only resolution that deserves consideration. This is my e-mail to commission:


MARQUETTE, Mich. — As of midnight Dec. 6, Michigan residents can consume marijuana in private. The state has one year to develop rules commercially and has to accept the first business license applications December 2019. It gives the City of Marquette – Municipal Government a finite amount of time to decide what to do locally.

For the benefits of our economy, I support a local tax, licensing, regulations, and would cautiously but enthusiastically welcome the new commercial businesses to operate in our budding micropolis.

At least three city commissions disagree, for now.

Anyone within state boundaries over the age of 21 may consume it privately and possess it without penalty.

About 60% of citizens in the city of Marquette voted to pass Proposal 1. It’s a majority, but hardly a mandate. The full positive effects of future commercialization in the city may be threatened. Municipalities across the state have banned the business of commercially selling the product in city limits, and a few local policy makers have expressed either opposition to Proposal 1, or a similar desire to ban businesses. It will be a forthcoming contentious debate in city of Marquette.

Banning businesses in the city will have harmful consequences. It depletes funds–a possible local tax–which could go towards enforcing the law and ensuring its safety. Regardless of how any city official personally voted on Proposal 1, the citizen initiative of decriminalization needs to come with responsible municipal reaction. Banning commercialization creates burden on law enforcement without the generation of city marijuana tax dollars behind them to enforce new laws.

Business banishment does not decrease the presence of marijuana in the city, it creates bureaucratic burden on citizens. It shifts the benefits of–not the possession of–marijuana to other municipalities. We are rejecting a capitalistic market trend. In the history of cottage based local economics, this has never been a beneficial outcome. If there’s a demand, consumers and sellers will find a way to exchange. Making those transactions illegal is futile.

Statewide, the Michigan Republican Party hopes to use the end of the year Lame Duck session to diffuse the potency of legalization’s tax benefits across the state, and have proposed bills that would take funding away from schools and roads.

This is more than disrespectful to the voters, it’s disrespectful to the process and counterintuitive to a productive economy. It would lower the tax rate from 10 percent to three percent, and cut out Michigan’s schools and roads from receiving tax revenue from legal marijuana.

Here are full details of what can and cannot be done under the new law.

The proposal began earlier this year when the State Board of Canvassers ruled that a group pushing a proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use got enough signatures to qualify for the ballot November.

Local officials across the state are beginning to decide if they want recreational commercial marijuana businesses in their communities after the state started giving out medical licenses year. Communities in the Upper Peninsula jumped to the opportunity.

Marquette has not.

Cities need to be prepared for state legalization. Police departments need to be equipped proactively for detecting impaired driving and a change in enforcement.

Even those who do not regularly use cannabis–or those to whom the plant does not personally appeal–have understood its benefits. Advocates for legalization have reasons beyond personal benefit. This is about the positive things it can do to our city and our state. It’s about economics. It’s about the voice of the people. It’s about freedom.

According the TIME Money, money brought in by Colorado’s booming, legal cannabis industry is now being used to help homeless citizens, address mental health and end the state’s opioid epidemic.

The state’s $105 million in tax revenue from marijuana sales the year will go toward the “Marijuana Tax Cash Fund,” which helps create housing programs, aid mental health programs in jails and contribute to health programs at local middle schools.

Similar legislation in Michigan will help schools.

After it passes, Michigan also needs to consider expunging the convictions of marijuana possessions prior to decriminalization. It’s fair, and would alleviate significant burden on our criminal justice system. Tax dollars should no longer be wasted on marijuana related offenses.

Unless we are prepared to bring back Prohibition and stop unwinding with a glass of red wine at night, it ought not be in anyone’s authority to say someone else cannot responsibly enjoy marijuana, too. First, if we want to benefit from the inevitable outcome of November’s vote, the city needs to have our ducks in a row.

Marquette, Michigan needs to join municipalities like Humboldt and Negaunee in preparing for Michigan’s inevitable legalization of marijuana.

I support decriminalization, taxing, and regulating recreational marijuana in Marquette. Taxes and licensing will make the city safer and help pay for new technology enabling our police department to detect impaired driving, and our fire department to inspect grow facilities.

With a few responsible caveats, I’m with the 70% of Americans who support legalization, and the whopping 80% of local people polled  who say they would support marijuana businesses in our city.

The Michigan marijuana ballot proposal would:

  • Legalize the possession and sale of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal, recreational use.
  • Impose a 10% excise tax on marijuana sales at the retail level as well as a 6% sales tax. The estimated revenues from the taxes are at least $100 million.
  • Split those revenues with 35% going to K-12 education, 35% to roads, 15% to the communities that allow marijuana businesses in their borders and 15% to counties where marijuana business are located.
  • Allow communities to decide whether they’ll permit marijuana businesses.
  • Restrict purchases of marijuana for recreational purposes to 2.5 ounces but an individual could keep up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home.
  • Allow the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and not the politically appointed licensing board that will regulate the medical marijuana side of the market,  to regulate and license marijuana businesses, ranging from growers, transporters, testers and dispensaries.
  • Set up three classes of marijuana growers: up to 100, 500 and 2,000 plants.

Do this surgically and responsibly just like we regulate alcohol, and there’s no reason Marquette couldn’t benefit from this industry. Studies show medical marijuana significantly reduces opioid use, and decreases prescription pill overdoses.

Posted by The Mining Journal on Friday, April 27, 2018