MERIDIAN TWP., Mich. — A group in Meridian Township is collecting signatures for a November ballot measure that would ban recreational marijuana shops from opening in the township.
“Meridian Voices is a group of interested Meridian Township residents that have come together to support the collection of signatures so that we can have a referendum on whether recreational marijuana sales happen in Meridian Township," said former township supervisor and member of the group Jerry Richards.
Township ordinances already allow up to six medical marijuana shops. Four licenses have been given out, but no actual shops have opened.
Recently, the board has been discussing whether or not to allow recreational shops to open. Trustee Dan Opsommer believes they should.
“For me, it’s a matter of access to safe and tested product and making sure that we have a regulated safe marketplace here in the township,” Opsommer said.
The board has been wanting community input.
“One of the things that continuously comes up is how do we get citizen input on this," said Richards.
Richards said the goal of the community organization is to give township residents who oppose recreational shops a voice.
“Let’s give Meridian voices a voice, Meridian Township residents a voice," Richards said.
The ballot measure would allow township residents to decide the fate of recreational shops rather than the board.
“We think it’s one of those questions that deserves a wider view," Richards said. "In this case, allowing residents to weigh in on it would be, we think, the best way to determine if this is a long term good for the township.”
Richards said in total they need to collect around 1,100 signatures.
“We believe that we will be successful in obtaining the signatures before the end of July,” he said.
The group wanted to have the measure on the August ballot but didn't meet the deadline.
“Not having enough time and the potential the referendum might have not cleared the legal requirements put us into a situation where the November election gives us more time,” Richards said.
If enough signatures are collected and voters say yes to the ballot measure, recreational marijuana shops would be banned from the township.
“This is one of those either you allow it or you don’t allow it," Richards said. "So, the ballot language would actually have a question that would put into the ordinances of the township whether it’s allowed or not allowed.”
Opsommer said the voter-initiated act is restrictive.
“Only a governing body can really structure something that's functional in terms of regulating the industry," Osommer said. "That’s where I think it’s the board's responsibility to opt in very prudently, thoughtfully and very deliberately.”
The township will send out a community survey that will ask residents how they feel about recreation marijuana shops in the township. Opsommer said he hopes voters leave the decision up to the board.
“At some point, we’re going to see a voter initiated petition whether it’s to opt out or opt in," Opsommer said. "My hope is that residents will air on the side of having the board do it thoughtfully versus one extreme or another.”
Meridian Voices will begin collecting signatures from meridian residents at the Meridian Township Farmers Market this weekend.
The deadline for signatures to be turned into the township clerk is July 27.
For more information on Meridian Voices, email: MeridianVoices2021@gmail.com.
Want to see more local news? Visit the FOX47News Website.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox.
Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines, and Daily Forecasts.