2019-01-19 Notes (Marijuana Discussion)

Chelsea Community Forum

Notes from January 19, 2019 Forum

This month’s forum focused on the impact of the recently passed referendum on recreational marijuana, and was moderated by Mike Schroer and Rod Anderson. Rick Catherman introduced the topic with the assistance of invited guest Lisa Conine.

A key issue identified early was the degree to which local governments will be able to regulate the operation of marijuana sales and use. Municipalities will have the opportunity to opt out of the ordinance, effectively precluding any marijuana shops from opening within their borders. The State of Michigan is responsible for setting up initial regulations, which much be completed within one year ( if the State fails to complete its regulation making process by the one year deadline, marijuana shops will be able to begin operations.)

Western Washtenaw municipalities are in the process of deciding which direction to take. It was reported that Lima Township has opted out, while the status of Sylvan and Lyndon Townships was unknown. The City of Chelsea is planning a second workshop on the topic before taking action. Of neighboring municipalities, Dexter, Saline, Manchester and Pinkney have all opted out of the program

Costs and revenues were next discussed. The State will impose a 10% tax on shops statewide, to be distributed between schools (35%), roads (35%) and local government (15%). It was pointed out that municipalities can charge a $5000 annual fee per each shop.

Vince raised some concerns about the overall program from a physician’s perspective. First of all, the marijuana industry has been using people as guinea pigs in the introduction of legal marijuana. The usual processes for the introduction of of drugs (randomized double blind clinical trials, for example) are generally not followed for marijuana. Also, there is no roadside test for incapacity due to marijuana use. Nor is it know how current laws on medical and recreational marijuana will interact. While it is true that users of medical marijuana are satisfied with its use, there are issues with its use under even these relatively constrained uses, according to Vince.

The final portion of the forum was dedicated to fine tuning the CCF forum, for example by providing an updated Facebook page. We are planning on discussing mental health issues in February and regional transit in March.