Brooks Township Latest To OK Medical Marijuana Businesses
By Ken DeLaat
A lengthy process that began nearly 6 months ago finally came to a deciding vote Tuesday night when the Brooks Township Board followed the recommendation of their Planning Commission on allowing medical marijuana businesses to operate in the township business district currently running along the east side of M-37 from M-82 to 96th street.
The vote went 5-1 with Township Treasurer Chris Haynor dissenting.
During the first public comment the board heard an impassioned plea from local resident Dianna DeGroot who described the role medical marijuana has had in improving her quality of life and referenced the need to improve access.
The board also heard from a long time medical marijuana caregiver who is part of a company getting involved in Med/Mar who expressed a desire to bring their businesses and jobs to Brooks Township.
Planning Commission Chair Ryan Schultz reported on their recent meeting when the ordinance was passed by a 5-1 margin.
During public comment at the February 26 meeting the Planning Commission heard from two separate companies interested in the possibility of doing business in Brooks, while Newaygo City Council members Mike Hikade and Eric Johnson each spoke in support of the measure and a resident also gave verbal support to the action. The commission also heard dissenting views from County Commissioner Vern Willett and another resident.
After getting the planning commission information the board continued with other reports then heard from Rick Johnson a former legislator from Osceola County who is the chair of the newly-formed 5 member Medical Marijuana Licensing Board appointed by Governor Rick Snyder.
Johnson described the role of the board in overseeing the newly directed businesses that have emerged since the new Med/Mar law went into effect last December. He emphasized the goal of the regulations are to provide product safety.
As to concerns about security, Johnson spoke to the licensing process stating that the first thing that must accompany an application is the approval of the local governing board.
“None of the businesses can happen unless you give them the green light,” he stated.
“Then they have to pass a background check and we need to make sure they can capitalize their business before we even consider an application. If a facility goes in we will have inspectors coming through We’ll have security cameras where we can watch what goes on inside.
“We’ve got a lot of things going that will make it safe for users and make it safe for the neighbors.”
Johnson also described the seed-to-sale tracking that will be put into place using barcodes to identify products.
With regard to what he described as rather rigorous background checks, Johnson stressed the need for applicants to be forthright on their applications.
“I will tell anyone applying you better tell us everything that’s ever happened to you. If you got a drunk driving as a high school senior and we find out about it it won’t look good. Not so much because of what happened but that you didn’t tell us.”
Johnson stated there are currently about 240,000 users of Med/Mar in the state and he estimates the number will grow to about 400,000 by the end of the year.
There have been bout 350-360 applicants for the new licenses thus far and he predicted about 50-60 more coming in soon.
“Michigan will be the second leading producer of Medical Marijuana behind California.”
The ordinance came up for discussion and Treasurer Haynor read a statement giving her reasons for opposing the measure, citing some doubt as to the promised wages and monies coming to the township, concerns over the proliferation of such businesses in the area and summed up by stating “I’m not against medical marijuana I just don’t feel Brooks Township is the best place for this kind of business.”
Trustees Schultz and Ken Page as well as Township Clerk Jennifer Badgerow and Supervisor Cory Nelson also discussed their reasons for supporting the ordinance, though Ms Badgero. stated she also shared some of Ms. Haynor’s concerns.
Following discussion the ordinance was passed.
Public comment followed with three potential Med/Mar businesses and Ms. DeGroot expressing appreciation to the board.
“For me it wasn’t a hard decision about passing the ordinance,” said Supervisor Nelson after the meeting. “it was a hard process.”
"I supported it because I feel this is what’s best for our community.This is about jobs and redevelopment.”