Advocacy Group Urges Howell City Council to Permit Marijuana Businesses

January 9th, 2024 Legislation & Policy Updates
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In Howell, Michigan, a significant push is underway to introduce marijuana-related facilities, potentially leading to a ballot question in the November 2024 election. This move challenges the city's current stance, which has been to opt out of permitting such establishments since Michigan legalized medical and adult-use marijuana in 2018.

Recently, Howell's City Council received a letter from Ypsilanti Attorney Anderson Grandstaff. He represents an organization advocating for a ballot initiative to overturn Howell's ban on recreational marijuana retail businesses and to create a regulatory framework for licensing these businesses. The proposed ordinance outlines procedures for city employees to process and evaluate applications for adult-use marijuana retail licenses.

Grandstaff's letter, discussed at a recent Council meeting, emphasizes a preference for collaboration over confrontation with the City Council. It suggests the Council could adopt the substance of the ballot initiative as a municipal ordinance, potentially with negotiated amendments to better align with local interests. However, the organization is prepared to proceed with petitioning if the Council is unresponsive or unwilling to negotiate in good faith.

The letter, along with a draft of the proposed ballot initiative, is available in the packet from Monday's Council meeting. While Grandstaff did not reveal his client's identity, a community survey circulating in Howell, linked to Liberty Petition Projects LLC, seems connected to this initiative. The survey, which does not require return postage, asks residents about their views on allowing marijuana retailers in the city and how to utilize the additional tax revenue.

City Manager Erv Suida confirmed receipt of the letter and draft ordinance, clarifying that the survey is not city-sponsored. He acknowledged the need to understand resident preferences, noting that while the city has considered such ordinances in the past, there hasn't been strong local momentum for permitting marijuana facilities.

Howell's situation mirrors that of the Village of Pinckney in Livingston County, the only municipality in the area currently allowing marijuana facilities. Pinckney faced a similar push from residents, resulting in a voter-approved ballot measure. Although one project in Pinckney, "The Means," has stalled, another proposal by Marco Lytwyn of Pinckney Developments for a marijuana facility named "Essence" is in the works.

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