At least, not if proponents of dispensaries and grow operations have any say in the matter.
They feel that when leaders of Michigan communities ban cannabis businesses, they’re often not putting the needs of their communities first -particularly in communities where the majority voted to legalize marijuana.
And they’re often right.
Michigan Communities Ban Cannabis Businesses out of Ignorance
As of now, at least 386 Michigan communities have adopted ordinances to ban cannabis businesses. At nearly 25% of Michigan’s cities, villages, and townships, that’s a sizable piece of pie.
And more are expected to follow suit. But why?
Given that voters approved legalization in 100 of the 113 communities in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties alone, it seems they’d be open to having a cannabis business nearby.
But so far, elected officials in these counties have opted out of having recreational cannabis businesses in at least 34 communities. In fact, eight of Macomb County’s 11 townships have banned dispensaries and grow operations.
Rather than taking advantage of what this new tax base might bring to their communities, many leaders continue to see marijuana as a dangerous Schedule 1 illicit drug they don’t want in their borders.
Some Communities Are on Hold
To be fair, not all of these leaders are terrified of the implications of the devil’s weed in their town. Some wealthier communities just don’t need the cash.
And others have said they’ll consider lifting the ban once LARA establishes all the rules and logistics of having a cannabis business in their community. This should happen by June. (In theory, at least.)
That’s exactly how they’re playing it in Sterling Heights – which is the most populated city on the list to ban cannabis businesses. Once LARA’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency establishes the rules, the city council members will return to the table to determine whether it’s right for them.
Meanwhile, in Dearborn where a majority of residents supported recreational marijuana, they’re holding out for 18 months before revisiting the issue.
But it may not be that cut and dry for these community leaders to ban cannabis businesses.
A New Law Gives Citizens Some Power
When 55.9% of voters approved Proposal 1 last November, it was understood that communities would have the option of banning or limiting the number of dispensaries, commercial grow operations, and testing labs.
But proponents find it troubling that a small group of city leaders get to make that determination. Especially in communities like Dearborn, where the majority of voters approved recreational marijuana.
That’s why there’s a new law that allows residents to override their community’s ban on cannabis businesses. And everyone should know about it.
Citizens must launch a petition with at least as many signatures from qualified voters as 5% of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial election. Then the issue moves onto the ballot.
Understanding their community would benefit from the sales and excise taxes such businesses would bring, Royal Oak Township was the first to challenge the ban. Unfortunately, only 377 voters turned out on May 7th so the ballot initiative was defeated.
Meanwhile, although residents of the village of Vanderbilt approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in November with 57% of the vote, the elected leaders opted to put the kibosh on recreational marijuana businesses. With this ballot initiative, residents will now have the opportunity to vote on permitting cannabis businesses on August 8th.
Given these two cases, cannabis activists feel strongly that more communities would challenge bans if they knew they had the option to do so. It’s just that most people aren’t aware of their right to have a ballot initiative.
And that’s a drag.
So Spread the Word
As a resident of your community, you DO have a voice.
When Michigan communities ban marijuana businesses, they’re more often than not only hurting themselves.
Because tax revenue from marijuana is expected to reach $262 million dollars by 2023. And the communities that choose to ban marijuana businesses – especially those that are cash-starved – will lose out on a share of that.
The math just doesn’t compute.
Stay connected with everything that’s happening in Michigan’s cannabis industry by regularly checking in with our blog.
And if you currently have a cannabis business, now is an optimal time to be sure your marketing strategy is on track. Contact us today to see how we can help.