Constantine village council discusses medical and recreational marijuana legislation

CONSTANTINE — The Constantine village council reviewed comments made by Catherine Kaufman, of Bauckham Sparks, Thall, Seeber & Kaufman PC in Portage, on a draft of an ordinance for recreational marijuana at a Monday, January 20 meeting. Kaufman was appointed to the Adult Use Work Group on Recreational Marijuana, by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affair’s Bureau of Marijuana Regulation in March, 2019, to discuss and provide suggestions on regulatory topics related to the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.

She discussed medical and recreational marijuana legislation at a special meeting of the village council on April 22, 2019.                   

Kauffman’s memo at the January 20 meeting, said to include more references to the Michigan Recreational Taxation Marijuana Act (MRTMA) in the ordinance. She stated that the MRTMA limits any violation of the law to a municipal civil infraction of up to $500, and recommended the village match that maximum penalty in the village adult use marijuana ordinance. A violation is a municipal civil infraction, not a misdemeanor. She added although it was not legally 100 percent clear, her firm believed that a municipality could totally prohibit or limit the number of establishments.

The village’s proposed recreational marijuana ordinance draft indicated there was an initial nonrefundable $1,000 application fee. In the event that a license is granted, the licensee must pay an annual fee of $2,000. Kauffman said that this was “more than fair” as the fee could go up to $5,000. Nine possible licenses include a retailer license, micro business license, grower license-Class A, Class B and Class C, processor license, secure transporter license, safety compliance facility license, excess marijuana grower license, marijuana event organizer license, and temporary marijuana event license.

Village manager/police chief Mark Honeysett said that Kaufman had been ill, and “did a good job” on the ordinance draft, considering she only saw it five or six days ago.

“This is your call. You determine how many licenses to approve and so forth. You can expand or shrink this. The council has to decide at some point how many is too many. If we approve all nine licenses, this town will be very full of marijuana,” he said.

Honeysett asked the council to continue reviewing the ordinance, send him their input, and said that hopefully by the next meeting a final draft could be approved and a public hearing set.

Several people spoke about recreational marijuana during audience participation.

Becky Lemon said, “What about our community as a whole? There are going to be problems with this I guarantee. Is money more important than our community? I don’t think the community is aware of what’s happening. I’m not against medical marijuana, but frankly I am disappointed in the council.”

Heather Staecker said, “I have had 13 surgeries, been on opioids for over 11 years. I stopped all of that when marijuana became legal. I am happier, healthier, and I have a new lease on life. This gives me hope.”

In other business…

  • Honeysett said that the Parks and Rec Committee has plans to restore the boardwalk adjacent to Riverview Park, which was heavily damaged by flooding nearly three years ago. “The water’s too high to do it now, but thanks to the efforts of Diane Lammott it’s within the $100,000 range to repair,” he said.
    At a May 21, 2018 council meeting, the council authorized Honeysett to apply for a state disaster contingency fund grant to repair the boardwalk. Honeysett said that grants were available for municipalities who experienced infrastructure damage that exceeds one percent of the current year’s budget, or $30,000 in this case. The village received notice a grant of up to $100,000 had been approved prior to an August 20, 2018 meeting.
    Gove Engineering was the engineer when the boardwalk was initially built at a cost of $68,000. Gove was acquired by Fleis and VandenBrink (FVB). The east end of the boardwalk was added on. Honeysett said earlier that he intended to ask Jon Moxey, an engineer at FVB, for a diagram of the original boardwalk.
  • The council reviewed and made several minor changes to a Youth Tobacco and Vaping Ordinance, and a Youth Marijuana Ordinance, and authorized Honeysett to have village attorney Howard Bush draft up new ordinance drafts to review. The council also said that Bush should research, and draw up an ordinance addressing youth alcohol abuse.

Angie Birdsall is a freelance writer who primarily covers Constantine.

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