Voters to determine number of recreational cannabis dispensaries
Voters in Mt. Pleasant in November will decide whether the city should allow 10 recreational marijuana dispensaries.
City commissioners on Monday approved language for a ballot question asking voters to approve a change in a city ordinance that will increase the number of licenses for recreational dispensaries from three to 10.
The move came after several people, including a Central Michigan University graduate who works in the cannabis industry and the co-owner of a local medical marijuana business who says she is losing money because she didn’t get a recreational license when a panel of city officials scored applications last year.
Commissioners in a 5-1 vote with Pete Tolas opposing and Lori Gillis absent approved language and set the question on the Nov. 2 ballot.
City Clerk Heather Bouck verified the signatures earlier this month.
During public comment Monday night, supporters of Consano, a medical marijuana dispensary near downtown Mt. Pleasant, spoke of recreational marijuana being “here to stay” and noted that more dispensaries will create competition, as well as arguing that the number of dispensaries has no impact on the number of people purchasing cannabis.
One supporter of having more licenses available said the panel who scored applicants last year – Police Chief Paul Lauria, City Planner Jacob Kain and former city clerk Jeremy Howard – should “be ashamed of themselves.”
Another told commissioners that Big Rapids is poised to approve recreational licenses for roughly 15 dispensaries.
Consano supporters also told commissioners that Lume, which received two conditional recreational licenses, donated three fire trucks to the city, giving the appearance of bribery and corruption.
Because Lume got two of the three recreational licenses last year, Consano’s profitability has been stifled, supporters said.
When asked by Mayor Will Joseph if commissioners could instead of approving ballot language amend the ordinance to include 10 recreational licenses, City Manager Nancy Ridley said the process of changing the current ordinance would take more time than putting the question on the November ballot.
Consano owners Deborah and Caleb Cary filed a lawsuit against the city last year, as did another recreational applicant that did not receive a conditional license.