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Clawson opts out of recreational marijuana establishments

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published June 4, 2019

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CLAWSON — Pursuant to the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, the Clawson City Council passed a resolution against allowing such businesses in the city in a 3-1 vote May 21.

The state has until this December to set regulations for licensing recreational marijuana facilities, and City Attorney Jon Kingsepp said the city was doing its “due diligence” by passing the resolution to opt out.

“The legislation that the public passed in the last November election resulted in the creation of a body that is going to make rules and regulations regarding the five licenses that are issued, and regarding local control over the process,” Kingsepp said.

He said that Clawson’s resolution to opt out would allow the council time to thoroughly examine the rationale of the licenses that may be appropriate for Clawson, determine the necessary planning requirements, and potentially allow for preliminary public comment.

“We just wanted to make sure we have a chance to see what the state does before we can address any of our ordinances,” Mayor Deborah Wooley said.

Councilwoman Susan Moffitt objected to the resolution because it did not contain a sunset provision and also because the city did not solicit public feedback.

“Most cities who are really doing their due diligence will hold themselves accountable and put a time frame in which they have to address it, because without that, this stays in place and is tantamount to opting out, period,” Moffit said. “I think we need to put a specific time frame in which we are going to be accountable for addressing the legislation that’s put in place.”

She added that the City Council is responsible for answering to its residents, who voted 66% in favor of Proposal 1.

“We don’t know what our citizens want,” Moffitt said. “We are ignoring people’s opinions by opting out without holding ourselves accountable with an expiration that we must reevaluate it.”

Councilwoman Paula Millan said she didn’t interpret the resolution as opting out permanently.

“We can address anything at any time, and not placing a date on it is not us not being responsible. It’s us saying we don’t know for sure when the state is going to make their final determination,” Millan said.

While the state has until December, Millan said, legislatively, things often get pushed back or forward.

Moffitt maintained that with elections coming up in November, there could be completely different people at the City Council table, so it would be prudent to make a commitment to take a look at changing the city’s stance.

“We’re also not committed to making any provisions to find out what people want,” she said. “We’re not holding town halls. We’re not doing surveys. We’re not asking the question. We’re not listening to the people who voted.”

Millan said the resolution without a sunset provision is prudent in order to see what the “real ramifications” are for the community.

“It’s about how it’s going to impact this 2.5 square miles of community that encompasses basically bed and breakfast people and not a lot of industry or things that could buffer something that could potentially be harmful to the citizens,” Millan said. “I’m not for this kind of activity, I’ll just be honest. … We are not saying, ‘No, you can never do this.’”

Mayor Pro Tem Matt Ulbrich was absent from the meeting.