The Charlotte City Council made the decision on Monday to temporarily opt out of allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries in Charlotte. After Prop 1 passed in the 2018 elections, Michigan became the tenth state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older.
One of the factors going into the decision has to do with the state not yet having guidelines and regulations for cities who decide to opt in. Charlotte is the fourth city/township in Eaton County to opt out. The list also includes Delta Township, Eaton Rapids, and Grand Ledge.
Jennifer Domingue, associate attorney with the Cannabis Legal Group, offered insight into the licensing and allowance of marijuana dispensaries for when the council decides to revisit the topic. The Michigan Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA), signed into law in 2016, features five key categories: growers, processors, secured transporters, safety compliance facilities, and provisioning centers. According to Domingue, opting into the allowance of marijuana dispensaries would include a sixth category: microbusinesses. In order for marijuana dispensaries to obtain licensing, they must pay the municipality a fee up to $5,000 for application and renewal, and that licensing can be revoked or restricted very easily. She also mentioned, along with some Charlotte residents who were for the opting in, the opening of jobs and the regulation being safer than dealers who might be on the street.
However, many of the residents that attended the city council meeting on Monday were firmly against opting in, offering concerns over the well-being of the community. One resident spoke about having worked with families in the legal system and noticed negative effects marijuana consumption had on the families, often the children. Another resident spoke on how there have been studies done linking daily marijuana use in teens under 17 to lower graduation rates. Finally, a big concern was addiction to marijuana among the other drugs the city has an issue with.
The decision from the city council has received a lot of backlash on Charlotte Facebook pages, prompting arguments over whether or not the council made the right decision. Many users have posted about potential tax benefits and mentioned how it’s still possible for adolescents and adults alike to get marijuana in Charlotte, even without the businesses.
The Charlotte City Council meets the second and fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m. As of right now, it is unknown on when they will revisit the issue.