The battle for marijuana heats up in Michigan on November 7 when voters hit the polls. While citizens won’t have a chance yet to vote on recreational marijuana—whose proposal by the Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) has reached the 300,000 signature mark—they will have the opportunity to vote on two separate proposals put forth by the Citizens for Sensible Cannabis Reform.
The first proposal is called “an initiative to enact medical marijuana facilities ordinance.” This proposal does several things. Most importantly, it narrows the distance that a provisioning center can be from parks, daycare centers, liquor stores, churches and other provisioning centers, cutting the distance from 1,000 feet to 500 feet. It also allows marijuana facilities to stay open an hour later until 9:00 pm.
The second initiative is called “a proposal to amend the Detroit zoning ordinance, Chapter 61 of the Detroit City code, consistent with the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act.” This initiative would create a new state law that would allow growers and transporters to operate in Detroit’s M1-5 industrial districts. It deals with land use standards and procedures, allowing more marijuana facilities in specified zoning districts.
For both of these proposals, if voters pass them, the impact for Michigan will be more marijuana facilities. Currently, the 1,000-foot requirement means that most facilities are forced into areas where people rarely visit.
So far, there are two sides to the debate.
Recently a group of City Council members, pastors, and community activists held a press conference urging “no” votes on both ballot questions. Marcus Cummings of the Metropolitan Detroit Community Action Coalition told Michigan Radio: “If the sensible cannabis folks just came with a clean opt-in, opt-out proposal, we probably wouldn’t have this issue. But when they went to gut the zoning regulations that the city already put in place, that’s what opened up this can of worms.”
On the flip side, Thomas Lavigne, a partner with the law firm Cannabis Counsel, thinks both proposals make sense. He told Michigan Radio: “It’s actually upping the regulation because now you’re going to have to comply with all the testing and labeling. Under the current ordinance, there’s none of that. Once these new [state] licenses are in place, all of these [dispensaries] will have to close anyway. So the city should have just adopted the new state law. Over a dozen cities around the state have already adopted it.”
It will be up to voters on November 7 to decide what happens.