by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Durand City Council voted on Monday, Oct. 7, by a four to two margin, to adopt a Recreational Marijuana Opt-Out Ordinance, which prohibits all recreational marijuana facilities within city limits. It is important to note, the adoption of the new ordinance involves only recreational marijuana businesses and will not affect individuals’ personal use of marijuana, either for medicinal or recreational purposes. In the words of council pro-tem Dr. Brian Boggs, “This just ensures that there will be no Walmart Superstore of marijuana in Durand.”
The council first discussed opt-in and opt-out ordinances during its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3, after learning that the State of Michigan had released preliminary rules for recreational marijuana facilities that would require municipalities to formally opt-out if they intended to prohibit recreational marijuana facilities in their community.
During that initial discussion on Sept. 3, the council was split on the decision, with Dr. Boggs, Jeff Brands, John Matejewski and Rich Folaron supporting an opt-out ordinance and Connie Cobley, Ken McDonough and Mayor Deb Doyle supporting an opt-in ordinance. The first reading of the opt-out ordinance was conducted on Monday, Sept. 16, with the council voting unanimously to forward the ordinance to the Monday, Oct. 7 meeting for a second reading. The vote on Oct. 7 remained divided, with Mayor Doyle and trustee McDonough casting “no” votes on the proposed opt-out ordinance. Trustee Cobley was absent from the Oct. 7 meeting.
Some see the passage of an opt-out ordinance as going against the will of the state’s voters, who approved the legalization of recreational marijuana use statewide in November 2018. Dr. Boggs contends that, although “the people have spoken on the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana, this ordinance does not go against the will of the people and was instead created within the framework of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act.”
Dr. Boggs pointed to uncertainty regarding the clarity of the state’s recreational marijuana facilities licensing guidelines and the increase of marijuana-impaired driving instances since medical marijuana was legalized in Michigan in 2008 as the primary objections to allowing recreational marijuana facilities.