3 Michigan communities to decide if they want recreational marijuana businesses


  • Steve Neavling

The fate of recreational marijuana businesses in three Michigan communities will be decided Tuesday.

Ballot proposals in Highland Park and Vanderbilt will ask voters whether they want to permit recreational marijuana dispensaries to open. In Crystal Lake, voters will decide whether they want to ban cannabis businesses from opening.

The elections come nine months after Michigan voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana. Under the ballot initiative, which 55.9 percent of voters approved, communities have the option of banning or limiting the number of dispensaries and commercial grow operations.

So far, more than 500 communities — or nearly a third of all cities, villages, and townships — have adopted ordinances banning the businesses, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. More communities are expected to ban cannabis businesses before the state begins taking applications — likely in December — from prospective dispensaries and commercial growers.

The new law enables residents to override municipalities' ban on cannabis businesses by gathering petitions to put the issue on the ballot. Proponents of dispensaries and grow operations say it's unfair for communities where a majority of residents approved legalization to ban the businesses that would allow people to buy recreational marijuana.

The first community to challenge a ban on cannabis businesses was Royal Oak Township. But only 377 voters turned out on May 7, and the ballot initiative was defeated.

The communities that banned the businesses are going to lose out on a share of what the Senate Fiscal Agency expects to be $157.4 million in sales and excise taxes in the 2020-21 fiscal budget year. By 2022-23, the agency projects the tax revenue to reach $262 million.

In the first quarter of next year, the first recreational dispensaries and grow operations are expected open.

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