Gladstone talks recreational marijuana

GLADSTONE — The recent passage of Proposal 1, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana in Michigan, was the major topic of discussion Monday at the Gladstone City Commission meeting.

Commissioner Dave Phalen had a question about the ability of communities to opt out of the recent passing of recreational marijuana. He was unsure on what opting out really entailed — if it meant marijuana could be made illegal in cities or not, even though the state has made it legal. Phalen said since the election, community members have been asking him questions about the new law and he wasn’t informed enough to provide answers.

“It is still going through the development phase,” City Manager Darcy Long said. “You can’t opt out of it totally — it is such a complex thing.”

Commissioner Darin Hunter explained opting out gave cities or townships a way to not allow provision centers and opting out does not make marijuana illegal. He said opting out is done through passing an ordinance.

“We would have to actually pass something,” Hunter said. “If we don’t pass it — if we don’t take action — then it is opted in and it is allowed.”

He said the way the recreational marijuana law works is the opposite of how medical marijuana worked when it passed through a proposal.

Long encouraged commissioners to attend the Michigan Municipal League Capital Conference in March, which will have a session on the new law with the head of the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation. The new law itself won’t fully take effect until December.

“It is a very complex thing, it is going to be debated in each community again,” Long said. “So you have this statewide Proposal 1 that was one part of the debate — now it is a debate in each community.”

He explained to the commissioners there is a lot of legal review that has to get done before communities can really make informed decisions on opting out and what it fully entails.

“Basically, even though you opt out, it is still here and you still have to deal with it,” Long said. “You might not have retail here, but you can’t limit the other businesses that go along with it.”

He explained the implementation of the new law will first start with the cities and communities that allowed medical marijuana dispensaries.

Long raised concerns about communities in Michigan facing continual debates on recreational marijuana at the local government level.

“The thing I have a problem with is that it didn’t leave it at a Statewide debate and then end,” Long said. “It became a continual battle … I think it was done purposefully that way because it is such a complex public policy in Michigan — that some communities are going to just throw their hands up because they didn’t sign up for this.”

In other business, the city commission approved a facade grant request for the old Stropich building, located at 503 S. 9th St. The DDA met on Oct. 16 and had approved of the plan made by Greg Stycznski. The facade grant will cost the DDA $13,713.

Community Development and Zoning Administer Renee Barron presented Stycznski’s project for the old Stropich building to the commissioners, stating the project would total $27,426.

There was also an approved motion to close Delta Avenue between 8th and 11th streets on Nov. 23 for the annual Old Fashioned Christmas event. The road closer will take place between 4:45 and 8 p.m. The Old Fashion Christmas event will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Barron said the road needs to be closed for the horse drawn carriage rides that will go along Delta Avenue during the Old Fashioned Christmas event.

Ron Miaso, the DDA/EDC coordinator, said the carriage route will include both Delta and Superior avenues. He mentioned this route will be more efficient because the horses won’t have to turn around on Delta Avenue.

Barron said Superior Avenue doesn’t have high traffic and that is why only Delta Avenue is going to be closed between 8th and 11th streets for the carriage rides.

Other items that were discussed at the Nov. 12 regular city commission meeting were:

– A special meeting was set for reviewing the 2017-2018 audit report. The meeting will take place at 5 p.m. before the regular commission meeting on Dec. 10.

– City Clerk Kim Berry mentioned during the meeting elections had a great turnout in Gladstone, with a little over 53 percent of voters heading to the polls. She said this was under election turnout for presidential elections but great for a midterm election.

– Berry also mentioned the recent passage of Proposal 3 will change the way elections work, with clerks having to figure out a new way to set up for elections. With same day voter registrations, there will be a need for more workers during elections, more election equipment and more space needed.