EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Meridian Township Board has decided to move forward with discussions of allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries in the township.
“What we’re talking about it opting in within that framework and using our medical ordinance to opt in on adult use,” said township Trustee Dan Opsommer.
Opsommer supports opening up to six dispensaries around the township.
“We want to ensure that we’re providing residents access to safe and regulated and tested product,” he said
He wants to allow existing medical marijuana facilities to sell recreationally.
"My preferred approach is to allow those existing facilities which we’ve already vetted and have gone through our approval process to then have the ability to operate in adult use,” Opsommer said.
This has been an ongoing debate in the township starting with medical dispensaries in 2018, when more then 60 percent of the township residents voted in support of legalizing recreational marijuana.
“We’re in a unique situation because the voters have legalized a commodity that has been in prohibition for centuries,” Opsommer said.
But not all of the board members are sold on the idea. Treasurer Phil Deschaine said he's skeptical about opening shops for recreational use.
“We should say no to recreational marijuana for now," Deschaine said."In a couple years, we can take this up again, but for now it’s very risky to be one of the very first to say yes.”
He wants to hear more from the public before moving forward with any decision.
“We need to talk about this," Deschaine said. "We need to talk about the risks. We need to talk about the costs. Is it worth the costs? We need to listen to our residents who so far are saying we don’t want this.”
Officials are working to draft a citizen survey for the township which will include questions on recreational dispensaries.
“One of the questions we’re going to ask is do you approve recreational marijuana for Meridian Township?" Deschaine said. "And, if they do, what would be the right number of stores to have?”
The issue will be brought back for discussion at the March 2 Township Board meeting.
“Based on where we left it at the last meeting, that meeting we will start actually looking at the mechanics of the ordinance and how we do this deliberately,” Opsommer said.
If this passes, Meridian Township will join nearby East Lansing and Lansing in allowing recreational marijuana shops. Mason and Williamston have opted out.