Clinton Township Civic Center

Clinton Township Civic Center

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No medical marijuana facilities coming to Clinton Township

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published June 14, 2019


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The smoke has cleared when it comes to the issue of having medical marijuana facilities in Clinton Township.

On June 13, the township issued a press release stating that Supervisor Bob Cannon will not bring forth an ordinance to permit medical marijuana facilities within township borders. The topic has been discussed on various levels for approximately the last two years.

The issue has been hotly debated, not just in the township, but also across Michigan. Cannon himself has hosted two public forums to gather information and distribute it to the public via medical experts, attorneys and local school district representatives. The forums have discussed the ramifications of potential facilities for both medical and recreational marijuana.

“We are pleased to hear that Supervisor Cannon has made the decision to set this issue aside, as it has been clear throughout the public conversation that this is not something our community wants or needs,” Fraser Public Schools Board of Education President Laura Edghill said June 13. “This decision is a step in the right direction towards a bright and healthy future for all our citizens, particularly our young people.”

The supervisor said he looked at various geographic areas of the township where potential facilities could have made economic and physical impacts, such as in the area of Metropolitan Parkway and Groesbeck Highway, where plenty of available square footage exists and owners could theoretically invest millions of dollars into the community.

Cannon said such areas that could generate fees, and redevelopment could make $17 million, for example, and make the area “worth so much more.”

“We’re going to miss out on that (extra money),” Cannon said. “There’s more than one way a community makes money.”

Township Treasurer Paul Gieleghem said that the “major windfall” some people expect from the legalization of marijuana is simply a myth. He said the recreation and medical laws tie together.

“As the treasurer, it's my job to follow the numbers,” Gieleghem said. “I can say with certainty that the marijuana excise tax won’t produce more than $150,000 in the community on an annual basis.”

He also said the township does not have spacious commercial corridors like Warren and Sterling Heights, for example, and that the zoning process would involve figuring out a way to keep facilities away from schools, churches, daycares and more.

“The uniqueness of Clinton Township is that we are the largest township in the state, but we’re 28 square miles instead of 36 miles — yet we’re the most populated. And most of it is residential. … There’s very few places where we could have actually located these facilities.”

Cannon said his personal evolution on medical marijuana has played a big role in the ongoing discussion, calling himself “originally ignorant” as to the substance’s benefits. He knew it was “here to stay” and “necessary” for those with illness who desire pain relief.

“I was dead set against everything, but I didn’t tell anybody because I wanted to have an open mind about it,” he said.

After listening to various viewpoints, he said, he still agrees with schools and their officials that marijuana is bad for children, their development and general society.

“The problem is, (the youths are) getting marijuana that’s being sold to them,” he said. “They’re getting black market marijuana and they don’t know what’s in it.”

Gieleghem said there’s a difference between CBD and THC products, and that the voters who approved the recreational marijuana ballot initiative “made that decision because they don’t believe recreational marijuana is a criminal act.” There is a concern for the youths and lack of earmarked money for prevention programs, he added.

Ultimately, he said, there are more questions than answers.

“It’s all of our jobs to make sure that we, before we move forward, we consider and attend to the law of unintended consequences. … I think marijuana’s here to stay. It’s something we all need to figure out how to deal with,” Gieleghem said.

In terms of enacting some type of ordinance, Cannon worried about ballot initiatives that would take control out of officials’ hands and possibly lead to a dozen or more facility locations.

“It’s a very difficult subject and very controversial, but the voters of Michigan and Clinton Township have put it into play.”

Speaking of location, Cannon cited how the city of Mount Clemens has approved two medical marijuana facility locations — one near Cass Avenue and Groesbeck Highway, and one at the former Gibraltar Trade Center location — which will provide nearby access to the township residents who need it.

As for putting the hammer down on this issue, at this juncture, Cannon said the Board of Trustees is divided and that he doesn’t see a majority passing any type of ordinance.

“As far as I’m concerned, the talks are over,” Cannon said.