Troy Council Holds Off on Medical Marijuana Facility Decision

Troy Council Holds off on Medical Marijuana Facility Decision

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 24, 2018)

Troy, MI – Troy City Council met for a work session Monday with an audience of about 30 residents and guests to discuss whether the City should opt in, opt out or do nothing in regard to allowing medical marijuana facilities. The decision was to take no action, and to revisit the topic at some point down the road.

No vote was taken, but councilmembers shared their opinions.

There are currently over 70 caregiver licenses in the city, allowing the caregiver to grow for their specific patients. The new medical marijuana facility regulations do not change the rules for current caregivers or patients, but they provide the opportunity for medical marijuana facilities for cities that opt in. Categories of businesses allowable under state law are: growers, manufacturers (processors), distributors (provisioning centers/dispensaries), transportation and testing facilities.

Hazel Park recently passed their ordinance which will allow for up to four of each type. The State of Michigan began accepting applications and is expected to start approving licenses in May. Other municipalities, have passed ordinances expressly opting out of allowing the facilities.

Councilperson Dave Henderson said “I’m against anything related to marijuana in the city… Other communities will embrace it. We’re not going to impact that industry by option out.”

Henderson said that there had already been two raids on caregiver grows in Troy. “That tarnishes our brand,” he said.

Mayor Dane Slater is also opposed. “Marijuana is a gateway drug,” he said.

Councilperson Ed Pennington said he was not in favor of dispensaries, but would consider the potential for other types of facilities. “Warehouses that were empty, now they’re being used for medical marijuana,” he said. “If we opt in for grow facilities only, you’re going to limit the number of growers… If we don’t opt in, there will be vacant buildings and we’ll lose that opportunity.”

For Councilperson David Hamilton, the issue is one of municipal resources. “When I look at this regulatory scheme, the City of Troy does the bulk of the work to enforce this, while the State gets the bulk of the revenue,” Hamilton said. “One resident said let other cities stub their toe, and I agree. There’s too much uncertainty here.”

Councilperson Ellen Hodorek said “I am pro medical marijuana, let me be clear about that…. That said, my wheelhouse is reputation management, brand management. And that’s what I struggle with. When the headlines come out saying we opt in, what does that do to our brand?” She added that “the laws are a mess,” and “Our police and our city attorney are not sitting around with nothing else to do.”

Councilperson Ethan Baker said he agreed with points on both sides of the issue. He’s toured local grow facilities and said “It’s not what you’d expect. It’s not in someone’s garage. It’s a lot cleaner than some other businesses.”

But the image of the City was on his mind. He said that the City gives money to fund the Community Coalition and their drug use prevention programs, and that approving marijuana facilities would “make us look like we’re hypocritical.” He also said “The City of Troy is doing just fine… The timing just doesn’t feel right to me.”

Mayor Pro Tem Edna Abrahim said “What this boils down to, to me, is two things. One, the State law that leaves much to be desired in terms of clarity… I don’t want to be the city that leads to finding the unintended consequences…. And two, the conflict between state and federal laws.”

“We’ve taken such care and such pride in our city being run efficiently… We’d be dealing with chaos, and all that chaos costs man hour and tax dollars,” Abrahim said. “Given our city’s values, what we take pride in, at this point I’m not opting in.”

Members of the audience weighed in as well, with some in favor and some opposed.

Nancy Morrison, Director of Troy Community Coalition, has worked in treatment and prevention for over 17 years. “I saw how difficult it is to overcome addiction,” she said. “Marijuana is the next cigarette. Some people get rich and other people lose their health…We don’t want to normalize marijuana and have them [youth] think it’s no big deal.”

Attorney David Rudoi and others in favor of facilities said in response to those not wanting it in their community, “it’s already here.”

He cautioned the City that if they do not create the ordinance they want, that a citizen referendum could pass, taking the control out of their hands. He suggested that the city opt in, “but doing so in a manner that keeps the bad actors out and lets the good actors in.”

“It’s in the City’s best interest to pass your own laws and keep control,” Rudoi said.

The City of Troy has a moratorium on marijuana related businesses that expires in March and will need to be re-examined. The current caregiver grow operations are not impacted by the new laws and will be allowed to remain open, several councilmembers said during the discussion.

Councilperson Baker gave assurance to those caregivers. “We have to protect the businesses that are already here,” he said.

No decision was made at the study session and no further discussions are scheduled at this time.

For more medical marijuana related stories through Oakland County, CLICK HERE.

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