Community Voices Heard in Bad Axe Cannabis Ordinance Debate

April 11th, 2024 Legislation & Policy Updates
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Over the past two years, the City of Bad Axe has been carefully considering the introduction of cannabis businesses into the community. After initially hesitating, the city council, in March 2022, decided to revisit the possibility, directing the then Police Chief David Rothe and his successor, Shawn Webber, to conduct thorough research on the matter. This marked the beginning of a meticulous process to establish a city ordinance concerning cannabis establishments.

Following numerous discussions throughout 2022 and 2023, the council took a decisive step in November by agreeing to develop an ordinance. Although the ordinance is not yet officially approved, a proposed draft has been presented.

The draft outlines that the city may host up to four state-licensed cannabis establishments - comprising two microbusinesses and two retailers. According to the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, a microbusiness is authorized to cultivate up to 150 cannabis plants, process, package, and directly sell or transfer the cannabis to individuals who are at least 21 years old or to a cannabis safety compliance facility, excluding other cannabis establishments. A retailer, on the other hand, is permitted to acquire cannabis from these establishments and sell or transfer it to individuals who are 21 or older.

Each establishment under the city's draft ordinance would be subject to a municipal license fee not exceeding $5,000, requiring annual renewal.

During a recent city council meeting, a public hearing was held, offering a platform for community members to express their views on the ordinance. Only two individuals spoke out.

Lynette Beeler, a Bad Axe area resident, shared her deep concerns about the potential impact of cannabis businesses on the community. With strong ties to Huron County, Beeler emphasized the importance of considering the broader implications of the ordinance beyond financial benefits, citing potential negative effects on the community's wellbeing.

Jesse Klaska, another lifetime resident, echoed the sentiment of limited public engagement in the discussion. He challenged the council to identify benefits of introducing cannabis businesses to Bad Axe, aside from monetary gains, and suggested that any such businesses should be located away from the downtown area and residential neighborhoods, preferably to the north of the city.

Rebecca Bachman, the Bad Axe City Manager, indicated that the next phase involves a public hearing set by the city’s planning commission on April 24th at 6:30 p.m., focusing on zoning for the ordinance. Bachman emphasized the importance of community input and expressed hope for robust public participation. She anticipates that a final decision on the ordinance will be made by the council in May.

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