With legal weed in Michigan still being a relatively new concept, many cities and townships across the state are finding themselves a bit trepidatious about the future of Michigan recreational dispensaries, and medicinal-only establishments, as well. But, that said, there have been multiple stipulations put in place by local governments that would, essentially, allow any dispensary in Michigan to sell to both crowds in the future.
A couple years ago, when the fine people of Michigan voiced their opinions in the voting booth and voted yes on marijuana in Michigan, they assumed it would only be a matter of months before they were welcoming cannabis clubs into their town. However, the converse seemed to be true for some cities. These specific regions, for one reason or another, wanted to opt-out of allowing dispensaries to open up for business within their borders, which, to be fair, is their absolute legal right.
But, what’s really puzzling, is the majority of these towns are full of citizens who totally support cannabis being sold in their town. So, what gives?
Well, there’s a cacophony of explanations that could be implemented to accurately answer that more-than-fair inquiry, but when you boil it all down, it comes back to these towns wanting to wait for the state, itself, to come up with a finalized set of rules and regulations, that would subsequently govern, and help them regulate, any sort of cannabis-related business that chooses to open up in their neck of the woods.
For some cities, this is a valid concern, and they have already made it abundantly clear that they plan to open up their minds to the possibility of allowing dispensaries and whatnot to open up within their borders once the state “has all their ducks in a row.”
But for other towns, like Coloma, for example, it seems like that may be a bunch of “lip service,” as many citizens of this quaint town believe the elderly realm of the population will do anything they can to keep cannabis out of their area, despite the majority of their neighbors wanting to welcome marijuana with open arms (and empty pipes).
A spokesperson for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, David Harns, has been fielding a lot of questions on this very subject. But his response is usually the same. Recently, he was broached with a similar question, in which the interviewer wondered if there was anything the citizens of an anti-cannabis town could do to counteract the governing powers’ prohibition of dispensaries in their area.
To which, Harns said, “If local municipalities decide that they don’t want to participate in this, that’s their choice.” And, unfortunately for all Michigan cannabis enthusiasts, a surprising 40% of towns, all with majoritively pro-cannabis citizens, have repeatedly opted out of allowing any sort of marijuana-related business from opening up since cannabis was legalized in the state.
Which, to be honest, is downright absurd and tyrannically, to a degree. Especially since most of these cities would benefit from the government’s social equity program that was specifically designed to help out communities who were unjustly targeted during the government’s failed war on drugs.
These areas would get massive tax breaks and incentives, that would turn into revenue for their local legislative leaders. Yet, for a litany of stubborn reasons, these places have put up a “stiff-arm” to all of the pro-cannabis movements that have taken place since the passing of that historical law a couple years ago.
Since it’s a bit hard to fully believe these untrustworthy politicians when they say they “might” entertain the idea of cannabis being sold in their towns, Michigan residents can only wait for the summer of 2020 to roll around and go from there. Because it is then that the state plans to release and implement a separate series of rules and restrictions for each crowd of cannabis enthusiasts: the med-only crowd and the recreational crowd.
Specifically, Saginaw and Kalamazoo are two of the more popular cities that plan to welcome cannabis into their town this summer once the state gets their official set of rules together. These cities are also eligible for that aforementioned social equity program.
The number of positives that are sure to come as a result of this legislative standoff between local officials and citizens is going to be game-changing.
Other towns, like Albion and West Branch, have similar plans, but they haven’t elaborated as to when that would officially happen. But, if everything goes according to plan in places like Kalamazoo, that will eventually lift whatever stigma remains in the eyes of those anti-cannabis towns, and in time, they will, too, welcome these types of cannabis businesses into their region.
So, apparently, it’s just going to be a bit of a waiting game for these particular cities, but they will (most likely) be allowing cannabis clubs, and such, to open up for business in the near future. In the meantime, you won’t have to worry about the social equity opportunity going extinct before then. In fact, it appears as though that piece of legislation isn’t going anywhere – possibly ever.
Speaking on the equity program, and how it pertains to people who currently live in anti-cannabis towns, but want to open up a dispensary of their own, Harns said, “If a community opts out of the adult use licensing, the people who live in that community can still take advantage of the social equity program because they are allowed to open business in other communities.”
Adding, “The social equity program isn’t just a short-term thing, this is something that we’re going to have around for a long time [to help] these businesses not only get up and running, but that they stay successful in the long term.”
At the end of the day, it will always be the city’s decision whether or not to allow these businesses in, but as the state releases its official rules and regulations on the matter, these once-stubborn, sheepish, anti-cannabis regions will soon see just how beneficial these companies and establishments are. Not only will they reap the revenue-related rewards from such an allowance, but their citizens will be happier, in general.
And, honestly, isn’t that what matters most? I certainly think so.
So, really, the only thing you can do at this point is practice patience. I know it seems a bit unfair that these cities would restrict the selling of cannabis in their borders, but as time goes on, they will see the error of their ways, and do everything they can to “right” that “wrong.” I guarantee it.
Hang in there, my fellow enthusiasts!