By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.- On Monday night, the township board approved the first reading of an ordinance regarding the sale of marijuana with a 4-3 vote. Trustees Dana DePalma, Jayson Rumball and Kris Kordella voted against the ordinance. Supervisor Kathy Thurman, Clerk Candee Allen, Treasurer Terri Darnall and Trustee Robert Marshall OK’d the ordinance.
The approved motion reads “to prohibit marijuana establishments within the boundaries of Brandon Township” and comes after the midterm election in November when voters approved the legalization of marijuana. Within Brandon Township, all six precincts voted in favor of legalization, except one precinct which tied.
“My thought is LARA (Licensing and Regulatory Affairs) has up to a year to come up with the regulations, once they get them, then that’s the rule, then they can come into the township and establish a business,” said Supervisor Kathy Thurman. “It would be better to have this in place so that once they do come up with the rules, we have time then to come up with an ordinance that we feel good with to allow businesses if that’s the direction that we want to go.”
Though the possession of marijuana was officially legal on Dec. 6, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has up to a year to create regulations for stores which sell marijuana products. Since there are currently no regulations in place, the ordinance will need to be revised in the future when there are regulations.
“I don’t trust LARA as far as I can throw them based on our experiences,” said trustee Bob Marshall. “It’s easier to let out the reins than pull them back in.”
The legalization of marijuana has been a controversial issue for local communities, as Atlas Township passed an ordinance last month and the Village of Goodrich passed a resolution against the sale of marijuana in their communities.
“I voted no, not because I’m for it and not because I’m against it, I voted no because I thought we could wait for the state to know what we were actually putting into ordinance and that we were able to do our research,” said trustee Dana DePalma
Residents also voiced their support for a marijuana establishment in the township for the tax revenue and for ease of access to those 21 and over who would like to purchase marijuana. The taxation of marijuana is intended to help fund schools and roads, however, that may not be the case in the future and may not end up benefiting the township.
“There’s already a proposal to basically gut the taxes they put in there,” said trustee Jayson Rumball. “They want to take the 10 percent to 3 percent and remove all the tax money from schools and roads and direct it to other things the government wants to do with it, so one of the reasons that a lot of us voted yes to pass that stuff, it’s already proposed, will it pass, I don’t know.”
There were a number of residents who spoke in favor of having a marijuana establishment in the township. Some said their reasoning was for ease of access and others said the taxes would benefit the township. Some said the township should either regulate it like alcohol or postpone a decision for an ordinance until a later date when more information on regulations is available.
“I worked undercover for 17 years, I was working undercover when medical marijuana was passed,” said Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Brandon substation commander Lt. Greg Glover. “And I was involved in numerous undercover operations involving those dispensaries, and those dispensaries did attract a negative crowd to the community. Almost everybody that walked into those establishments were somebody other than who needed medical marijuana, and that involved high school kids one after another through that door. There is no regulation on how it is sent out the door, it is not placed in prescription bottles, that includes brownies, lolly pops, gummy bears, whatever it takes. It does bring a whole different element into the community.”
The township board also passed policy amendments for township employees that specifically address the use of marijuana in similar standards of alcohol use in the workplace. The amendments passed 7-0