Sylvan Township Contemplates Marijuana Retail Sale

September 8th, 2023 Legislation & Policy Updates
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The September 5th Board of Trustees meeting in Sylvan Township's meeting room was filled to near capacity. Many attendees sought to share their perspectives on the potential commercial retail sale of marijuana within the township.

While roughly 40 residents participated, their views might not encapsulate the opinions of the entire township, which boasts a population of over 3,000. Notably, a significant portion of the attendees opposed the introduction of marijuana businesses in the township.

Although Michigan permits the commercial sale of recreational marijuana, the township retains the right to decide on the establishment of such facilities within its limits.

No decisions regarding marijuana were made during the meeting. Instead, the topic was postponed, allowing the board another opportunity to consult the township's attorney about the state's current stance on marijuana. This discussion aims to understand the potential implications and benefits associated with various marijuana operations, be it retail, testing, or cultivation.

The meeting's agenda classified the topic as a discussion item. Key points of consideration included potential benefits to the township, overseeing responsibilities, and specific aspects the township might evaluate.

Mike Van Goor, a resident, voiced his opposition, questioning the necessity of dispensaries within the township when nearby areas like Ann Arbor, Jackson, and Adrian already have them. He referenced Chelsea city and Lima Township's stance against dispensaries, urging Sylvan to align with its neighbors.

The SRSLY coalition, represented by Reiley Curran, Chrissie Kremzier, and Kate Yocum, presented a "Marijuana Fact Sheet" highlighting potential adverse effects on the youth if dispensaries are allowed in the township. Among their points was research suggesting increased marijuana use among youth attending schools near dispensaries and potential links between marijuana use and mental health issues.

The public's concerns primarily revolved around increased accessibility to marijuana and its potential impact on the well-being of local youth.

Following public commentary, a motion was proposed by Board trustee Kurt Koseck to eliminate further marijuana discussions. However, the motion failed with a 2-3 vote. Trustee Sandie Schulze emphasized the need for continuous dialogue and exploration of other marijuana operations like cultivation facilities.

Rod Branham noted ongoing discussions about marijuana and highlighted that just over 50% of township voters supported its legalization.

When it came to tabling the marijuana issue, the board voted 4 to 1, with township clerk Amanda Nimke opposing.

In a follow-up, Nimke expressed her belief that the Board possessed enough information to make a decision on marijuana. She detailed past efforts to gather relevant data and underscored the community's clear stance against marijuana businesses.

Nimke highlighted that during a January 11, 2022 meeting, the topic had been sidelined, and priorities in Sylvan Township remained unchanged. She also indicated that the Board should address more pressing issues that directly benefit the residents.

Supervisor Kennedy acknowledged residents' apprehensions, emphasizing the Board's aim to stay well-informed before making decisions. Kennedy encouraged residents to reach out and share their concerns to ensure transparent and open communication.

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