By Ken DeLaat
It's starting to grow.
With a dispensary moving forward in White Cloud along with grow facilities soon to break ground in their industrial park and the city of Newaygo having secured a spot in their Industrial park, the addition of the Brooks business district could give birth to a new name for our county’s portion of M-37 .
The Medical (Marijuana) Miles.
This has been a controversial subject that has been woven into local dialogue since the passing of legislation aimed at the licensing and expansion of facilities and businesses in the state involved with Med/Mar.
Tuesday’s Brooks Township meeting was typical of the mixed opinions on the subject as the board engaged in some solid discussion and debate about what decision would best serve the township community. They decided, though not unanimously, to move forward as have the cities of Newaygo and White Cloud. The economic reasons stand tall in the debate and the legal implications remain fuzzy because of the federal law.
And then there is the looming spectre of Recreational Use becoming part of the package. Likely to be on the ballot as soon as November of this year and polling at nearly 60% in support according to Rick Johnson of LARA’s Medical Marijuana Board who spoke at the Brooks meeting, the game would change once again.
Most proponents of Med/Mar cite an opposition to legalizing recreational use, but should the desires of the electorate remain in favor, its passage or an amended one designed by the legislature to run as an alternative would look to be quite probable.
No one seems to know for certain. When Mr. Johnson was asked if ordinances could be passed to excluded recreational businesses he implied that though such measures could be passed by municipalities he doubted their ability to stand up in a judicial process.
N3 has covered this ongoing process at numerous meetings on many levels and while there is generally some opposition from the public and officials there seems to be consistently more supporters than detractors attending the meetings though several are those with a vested interest in the business end.
There are also few who argue against the prospect of good paying jobs coming to the area. The skepticism shared has a good deal to do with whether those jobs will pan out to be in the numbers and pay-grade promised.
And, again, if the number of facilities currently being tossed around looks to land on about 400 statewide, how would that change should recreational use come knocking?
As we said in a previous piece several months back this looks to be a sea change of our business environment. With several new companies vying for the opportunity to set up shop in our county and tossing out some living wage type of figures this will have a huge impact on an area where, according to reports from the business community, finding qualified and capable employees can prove challenging at times. Will it drive other wages up? Will there be more businesses than the traffic can support? Will the jobs at these businesses draw more residents which would create the need for more housing and an increase in services?
Folks may speculate but it’s unlikely anyone can be certain with variables such as the prospect of a shift toward allowing recreational use.
One thing is certain, however.
Change gonna come.
“I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed.”- George Carlin
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