The Township Board Discussed the Use of Recreational Marijuana in the Township
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - The Meridian Township Board held a virtual study session regarding the recreational use of marijuana in the Township on Tuesday, February 16th.
“Marihuana is still illegal at the federal level and … commercial marihuana businesses will impact law enforcement operations and increase the burden on calls for service,“ Lynne Page, Okemos resident said.
Marcus Bahdaril a lifelong resident of Meridian Township said, “It will be an over $1 million investment into the property [ Castle Rock- Hagadorn] and provide at least 15 to 20 jobs over $15 an hour probably over $20 an hour.”
Retail and micro business are required to charge a 10% excise tax on recreational marijuana. If the Township established a retailer or micro business then they would receive 15% of the revenue.
Treasurer Phil Deschaine predicted that the Township could make approximately $93,000 annually in revenue from the excise tax. Tax and licensing revenue could bring it approximately $125,000 (excluding property tax) with an additional $30,000 in licensing revenue.
Kat Ebert said, “As someone that has had my medical marijuana card since I was 18- years-old, there has never been a medical cannabis dispensary that has been close to me and I’ve had to drive and buy it somewhere else.” Ebert is a part of the Michigan State University chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
The Township approved an ordinance that allowed six medical marijuana zones in the district in May of 2019. There are no medical marijuana facilities yet but Township Supervisor Ron Styka said that there could be up to one facility per area.
According to the Medical Marijuana ordinance passed in May 2019, medical marijuana facilities must be 1,000 feet from any public or private k-12 school, 500 feet from churches, worship centers or other religious facilities, and 500 feet libraries, preschools and child care centers.
“Just simply as a parent I have two young kids and I just feel that marijuana is not something that will make our community kid-friendly,” Cindy Liu Okemos said.
While the Township Board hasn’t come up with a plan for recreational marijuana yet, Styka said that they would consider creating similar guidelines for recreational marijuana as there are for medical marijuana, like have facilities in certain zones and the zones being a certain distance from schools, churches, and libraries.
Trustee Dan Opsommer said, "Any individual arriving at the site has to go through high security clearance just to get into the showroom where the product actually is.” Opsommer addressed the concerns people had about recreational marijuana being accessible to youth.
When someone enters a facility they must check in with the receptionists and show identification before they are able to go to the showroom and buy product.
Mike McCurdy said, “We don’t have a marijuana epidemic because it’s not a dangerous drug. We have an epidemic of alcoholism, drunk driving. We have bars everywhere. These are the problems in our Township, not marijuana.”
The Michigan Incident Crime Reports that in 2019 there were over 28,000 incidents of operating under the influence of liquor or (OUIL) or operating under the influence of drugs (OUID).
“We don’t know the impact here in Meridian Township. East Lansing has approved it but East Lansing is a City, East Lansing is a college Town. Ann Arbor approved it but Ann Arbor is a college town and it’s a city. We don’t know the impact on a suburban community like ours,” said Treasurer Deschaine.
The Township Board will continue to discuss recreational use of marijuana at the next board meeting on March 2nd.