Recreational Cannabis Establishments Approved in Bad Axe

November 20th, 2023 Legislation & Policy Updates
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The Bad Axe City Council, in a significant move, recently approved the introduction of recreational marijuana facilities within the city limits. This decision marks Bad Axe as the first municipality in Huron County to endorse such establishments for recreational use, diverging from neighboring areas like Caseville and Oliver Township, which currently only sanction medical marijuana facilities.

Before the council's decision, Police Chief Shawn Webber, along with former Chief David Rothe, presented their findings from research initiated in March 2022. Webber emphasized the need for detailed ordinances to regulate what would be permissible within the city. He highlighted the potential economic benefits, noting that different license types, especially "retailer" and "micro business," could significantly contribute to municipal revenues. According to his research, each license could generate approximately $51,841 annually, a figure that has been increasing since 2019.

Webber also addressed public safety concerns. He referenced discussions with other municipalities like Bay County, indicating that there had been no notable rise in crime rates in areas with similar facilities. Most issues reported were related to retail fraud, and there was no increase in incidents of driving under the influence.

Webber expressed his support for the initiative, citing his research: "I personally am OK with it and I don't think it's going to increase our crime rates or cause us more work by any means."

The council also deliberated on the potential allocation of revenue generated from the marijuana ordinance. According to Webber, the funds would primarily support the police fund, which could indirectly benefit other city sectors through budget adjustments.

The motion passed with a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Clark McKimmy opposing and Richard Peterson initially voting against it before opting to abstain, pending further information. Peterson's abstention raised questions about its legal validity.

McKimmy explained his opposition, stating he believed the decision should have been left to the city's voters.

With the council's approval, the city will now begin drafting an ordinance to regulate the operation of these facilities. This includes licensing processes and maintaining compliance with city regulations. City Manager Rebecca Bachman noted that, in collaboration with the planning commission, it could take six months or more to finalize the ordinance. A preliminary draft, informed by Webber's research and contributions from the city attorney, is already in progress and will soon be reviewed by the planning commission.

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