By N3 News Team
Next week Thursday.
That’s the date when legal recreational marijuana likely becomes a reality for Michigan residents after Proposal 1 passed by a significant margin in the November 6th election.
There are a number of licenses for medical marijuana facilities in our area. Brooks Township, White Cloud and Newaygo have all ok’d such facilities of one type or another and White Cloud’s White River Wellness provisioning center on the north end of the city has been primed for an opening for several months as it awaits what has become a plodding licensing process.
But this was all for medical marijuana. What about recreational?
Newaygo’s City Council acted quickly to become the first in our area to place a ban on recreational marijuana businesses just 6 days after the election. Grant’s elected officials did the same this past Monday and the others may follow suit if an effort by the Headway Coalition proves successful.
Members of Headway, the local substance abuse prevention group, voiced their opinion at both the Newaygo and Grant meetings and will likely be advocates for the ban in other areas as well.
Rachel Uganski, the Coalition Coordinator, explained that the team, including Law Enforcement throughout Newaygo County, feels passionately about keeping recreational marijuana establishments away from our city limits. “Dispensaries in the city limits will decrease the perception of risk among our kids and make it easier for them to access marijuana. These factors will increase youth marijuana use which has proven harmful to brain development.”
Others will welcome the change as evidenced by the close to 50% of Newaygo voters who supported the measure that passed in the state by a 56-44% margin.
As of September 2016, 1286 county residents had their cards to purchase medical marijuana with an additional 246 caregiver cards out there as well. By contrast in 2013 there were 767 patient cards and 318 caregivers.
That number in all forms of probability would likely fall short of the number of people in our county who use marijuana in one form or another.
In 2015 there were 178 marijuana related arrests in the county.
It would also be a good bet to assume that number also falls short of the number of people who have chosen to use cannabis despite the legal aspect.
But now it is legal in the State of Michigan while continuing to be against federal law.
The new law outlines the following:
Where do we go from here as a community where medical marijuana has already begun to have an economic foothold?
While it seems that the medical marijuana facilities would be the likely candidates for producing and selling the recreational product as well, could this be changed by municipalities imposing a ban?
And what about the law enforcement aspect?
We plan to explore this emergent issue in the coming days. Our hope is to gather some input from various entities in an effort to get an early read on how this change might impact our area.
Let us know your thoughts.