Public Debate Intensifies Over Proposed Bad Axe Cannabis Ordinance

June 6th, 2024 Legislation & Policy Updates
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Since Michigan's 2018 ballot initiative legalized recreational cannabis, the possibility of dispensaries opening in Bad Axe has been a topic of ongoing discussion. Recently, this issue reached a pivotal point with the drafting of a proposed ordinance.

The proposed ordinance has already undergone two public hearings with the Bad Axe City Council and the Bad Axe Planning Commission, awaiting a final vote.

Though the ordinance was not on the June 3rd city council meeting agenda, it was a focal point during the public comment segment.

Resident Kim Rosenthal voiced a common sentiment: "I think we've all heard the pros and cons on the marijuana ordinance. I think we are at the point where you should consider putting it on the ballot. Either way, people are going to be upset if you guys make the decision. I think the people in Bad Axe should make up their mind whether they want it or not."

Luke Deming, a vocal opponent from nearby Sheridan Township, reiterated his stance. "We need to look at the people, not the dollar amount. If you guys plan on trying to pass it, I would try to encourage the people of the city to write a referendum to force you guys on the ballot. I suggest you guys put it out for the people, otherwise, we will have to file a referendum and collect signatures to get it on the ballot."

Despite not being a Bad Axe resident and thus unable to sign a petition, Deming emphasized the importance of local residents having a say in the matter.

Concerns about the proposed dispensary also came from educators and religious leaders. Former educator Tim Laity and Faithway Church pastor Mike Beeler, both Bad Axe residents, expressed their opposition.

"I'm here to add my voice to those who are opposed to the idea of having a marijuana dispensary," Laity stated, citing issues with cannabis edibles among students as a significant concern. "As a former educator myself and someone who raised a couple of kids in this community, I would very strongly be opposed to the idea of a marijuana dispensary in this town."

Pastor Beeler echoed these sentiments, focusing on community and family values. "Everything about the business I'm in is about caring for people. We all understand that pot usage is legal and is coming into Bad Axe. It's available. We're not wanting a warehouse, we're not wanting a store and we're not wanting it in Bad Axe. I'm coming from the faith community and everything about my life has been about family. I raised three daughters here and I wouldn't want that. No one is struggling to get the product. I urge you to consider and re-evaluate the purpose for which this has become a priority in Bad Axe."

Members of the Bad Axe City Council appreciated the robust community involvement. Council Member Joel Harrison and Mayor Kathleen Particka both acknowledged the importance of public participation.

"I just want to say to the public thanks for coming to the last few meetings to share their opinion both good and bad," Harrison said. "I'm pretty sure everyone up here on the council loves hearing what you all think. It's really nice that the public is getting involved. We used to have meetings where all of the chairs in here were empty."

"It's amazing and I can't say it enough," Particka added. "It's nice to have people in the gallery."

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