Breitung Township Stands Firm on Cannabis Dispensary Ban

April 10th, 2024 Legislation & Policy Updates
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Breitung Township has decided to maintain its ban on cannabis dispensaries, a decision underscored by the potential financial benefits these businesses might have offered. During a recent board meeting, the topic resurfaced at the behest of Trustee Ben Peterson, who highlighted the significant state revenue garnered by neighboring municipalities Norway and Iron Mountain from such establishments.

According to a Michigan Department of Treasury announcement in March, Norway and Iron Mountain are set to receive $118,172 and $59,086, respectively, from the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. Additionally, Dickinson County is anticipated to receive $177,259 in adult-use cannabis distributions.

Dispensaries like Lume and Rize in Iron Mountain, along with Higher Love Cannabis in Norway, have contributed to these figures. Peterson argued that rejecting the cannabis industry means forgoing substantial funds that could benefit township infrastructure and services, such as roads and fire trucks. He emphasized the lack of crime increases related to dispensaries, as confirmed by the Dickinson County Sheriff's Department and local police.

However, opposition from Supervisor Denny Olson centered on the belief that the financial gain from dispensaries would not justify changing the existing ordinance. Olson expressed concerns about the community impact of allowing a dispensary, despite the relatively small projected income.

Superintendent Steve Mulka noted that initial interest from dispensaries was high due to the township's low property taxes, but he now views the market as oversaturated. However, he acknowledged a reduction in complaints about the odor from cannabis cultivation since the legalization of recreational use in Michigan.

Treasurer Christina Maki supported the idea of welcoming dispensaries, pointing out the missed opportunity for additional township revenue. She advocated for learning from other municipalities' experiences to implement strict regulations within their ordinance.

Despite these discussions, the motion to uphold the ban passed, with Peterson, Maki, and Township Clerk Wendy Larson opposing the decision. The township's stance continues to prevent cannabis dispensaries from operating within its jurisdiction, even amidst evidence of their financial benefits to neighboring areas.

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