Lima Township Trustees Face Lawsuit Over Blocking Cannabis Dispensary

April 26th, 2024 Legal & Crime
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Residents of Lima Township, Michigan, are currently embroiled in a legal battle against the township's trustees, alleging that the trustees actively obstructed the opening of a cannabis dispensary, thereby infringing on their constitutional rights. The group, Citizens of Lima for Cannabis, argues in their lawsuit that their 14th Amendment rights were violated by the trustees' refusal to engage with their proposals and initiatives over a period of three years.

According to a memorandum filed in federal court, the township's motion to dismiss the lawsuit overlooks the valid 14th Amendment claims raised by the residents. The plaintiffs contend that despite their efforts and compliance with Michigan's legal requirements for opening a dispensary, the trustees never formally addressed their initiative. The situation escalated when the group successfully gathered sufficient signatures to place their initiative on the May 2024 ballot, only to face further opposition as the trustees allegedly instructed their attorney to prevent the initiative's inclusion on the ballot.

The lawsuit, initiated in March by Citizens of Lima for Cannabis, points to a pattern of behavior by the trustees aimed at hindering the establishment of any cannabis dispensary in the area. The complaint highlights the support from the community and several local entrepreneurs and developers, including Andrew Sereno, CEO of Michigan-based Glacier Cannabis. Despite this backing, the trustees have reportedly thwarted the initiative, causing the community to miss out on estimated tax revenues of $28,000 to $59,000, based on financial data from other Michigan municipalities since 2021.

The township defended its actions in early April, seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed by arguing the claims were rooted in state law and only insinuated federal constitutional violations, thus questioning the federal court's jurisdiction over the matter. In response, the Citizens of Lima for Cannabis detailed in their brief a clear violation of Section 1983 of the U.S. Code, which pertains to civil rights infringements, by alleging that the trustees deliberately denied them the opportunity to discuss their proposal at public meetings.

Moreover, the residents' group suggests that if the federal court rules in favor of the township, they should be permitted to amend their complaint to include an additional Section 1983 claim. This would assert that the trustees not only failed to vote on the proposed ordinance but also actively blocked the initiative from the ballot, further violating the residents' rights.

As the case progresses, a spokesperson for the residents has confirmed they are awaiting a decision from the court on this pressing issue.

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