Residents line up to speak to the City Council about recreational marijuana establishments at Lathrup Village City Hall Jan. 26.

Residents line up to speak to the City Council about recreational marijuana establishments at Lathrup Village City Hall Jan. 26.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Lathrup council hosts town hall on recreational marijuana

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published January 30, 2019


LATHRUP VILLAGE — Extra chairs were added to accommodate the residents who poured into the Community Room inside Lathrup Village City Hall Jan. 26 to sound off on recreational marijuana in the city. 

The Lathrup Village City Council hosted the town hall meeting and invited residents to listen to presentations from city officials. Residents were then allowed three minutes to have their say on the matter. 

Proposal 1, which legalized pot for recreational use for people 21 and older, passed in all 83 Michigan counties during the midterm election Nov. 6 with more than 55 percent of the vote. However, municipalities have the ability to “opt out” and ban recreational establishments within their borders. 

Mayor Kelly Garrett said the city hosted its first town hall on the matter in April, before the statewide proposal was passed. 

“This is the City Council’s promise to follow up to the town hall meeting,” she said. “And what we really want to do is seek the opinions and the input of the citizens of Lathrup Village.” 

City Attorney Scott Baker and City Planner Jill Bahm gave a joint presentation on how the city got to this point. 

“I’m glad you’re here to learn more about this. I think, honestly, that we’re all kind of learning as we go,” Bahm said. “We aren’t going to have all the answers today, because there is a lot to work out.” 

Police Chief Scott McKee gave a presentation on law enforcement’s perspective on recreational marijuana. 

McKee said he is concerned that impaired driving deaths will increase if the city allows recreational marijuana facilities, and he is concerned that there could be a spike in violent crime. McKee cited studies from Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2012. 

“The big thing with legalizing marijuana, everyone assumed the black market for marijuana would go away. In fact, according to Colorado, it’s actually increased,” McKee said. 

The main goal of the town hall, Garrett said, was to learn residents’ stance on the matter, which will help the council come to a decision before the end of 2019. 

“The whole point of having this is to get truly what the citizens want and to hear what you all want. We are going to get together during a council meeting to have a discussion about this to really figure out what our timeline would be,” Garrett said. “What I know for a fact — and I’m speaking on behalf of everyone here — is that everyone is on the fence. I don’t believe there is one person that is one way or the other. So we have a lot of research, a discussion to do amongst ourselves. I personally don’t think we can say exactly what the timeline is.” 

Many residents who spoke against recreational marijuana facilities said they believe Lathrup Village is too small to accommodate dispensaries. 

“I don’t feel marijuana dispensaries are a good fit for Lathrup Village. There are bigger cities that can handle the job, but not Lathrup Village,” resident Grace Strang said, followed by a round of applause. 

Samantha Cassidy, who said she owns a dispensary in Ann Arbor, said she was speaking at the meeting on behalf of a Lathrup resident. 

“Recreational marijuana passed in Michigan, so you’re going to have to deal with every adult citizen in the state now having access. Anybody can grow and have marijuana,” Cassidy said. “A lot of comments have been made about the traffic when you have a provisioning center. That shows that people really want it.” 

In December, the Southfield City Council enacted a 180-day moratorium on recreational marijuana establishments.