Grosse Pointe Park voters to decide whether to permit recreational marijuana businesses in city

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 19, 2023

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GROSSE POINTE PARK — One of the issues Grosse Pointe Park voters will be deciding when they cast their ballots for the November general election is whether they want to permit businesses that sell marijuana to adults inside city limits.

Two different proposals that, if approved, would allow retail marijuana businesses to operate in the Park will be on the Nov. 7 ballot.

City Attorney Morgan McAtamney explained during a Sept. 11 City Council meeting that two recreational marijuana business petitions met the requirements to be placed on the ballot.

“Our former (city) clerk did an exhaustive review of those petitions,” McAtamney said.

She said the city’s ordinances currently block such businesses from the Park.

One of the proposals, the City Cannabis Licensing Charter Amendment, would alter the city’s charter to allow up to two recreational marijuana facilities within the city, require local licensing and fees, and allow officials to “set application or selection criteria, and regulate” their operation, according to the ballot language. The other, the City Open Stores Ordinance, would change the city’s ordinances to allow up to two recreational marijuana businesses to open in the Park.

After the petitions were reviewed by the city clerk, they were forwarded to the Governor’s Office for approval. However, even though McAtamney said the petitions were submitted in a timely fashion and the clerk conducted her review swiftly, the Governor’s Office received so many of these petitions that it declared the petitions needed to have been submitted to the state about two months before Aug. 15 for state officials to be able to review them in time for the November ballot. McAtamney said the city hadn’t even received the petitions by that deadline.

It was “no one’s fault,” McAtamney said. “Everyone did what they were supposed to do.”

Despite the fact that state officials won’t be reviewing the petitions, McAtamney said they will still be on the ballot.

The City Council isn’t legally allowed to say whether it’s for or against these proposals. Council members can, however, share their opinions as individuals.

“Every single person (on the council) is allowed to advocate personally (for or against the proposals) … but the city and the council” cannot do so as a body, McAtamney said.

At least one city official is already weighing in with his own view.

“I personally am against the marijuana (ballot proposals),” City Councilman Marty McMillan said during the council comment portion of the Sept. 11 meeting. “I think it doesn’t fit our community.”

The fact that these questions are on the ballot at all “should not be seen as testimony one way or another” by the council on these proposals, Mayor Michele Hodges said. In other words, just because the proposals will be on the ballot doesn’t mean city officials as a group endorse or oppose them.

The city and its officials are allowed to provide residents with information about the ballot proposals. City Councilman Tom Caulfield asked that they “make sure we inform our voters as much as possible” that this decision will be in front of them this fall.

“We need to communicate that this is on the ballot for their consideration,” Caulfield continued.