Medical marijuana survey presents new possibilities for Bath residents

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The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act establishes state law immunity to prosecution of those who use marijuana for medical purposes. This act was voter initiated and establishes qualifying patient and primary caregiver status.

In Bath Township, Planning Director Brian Shorkey created a survey for the Bath community on new medical marijuana facility regulations, and whether or not it is right for the Township.

“We want to hear from our residents first,” Shorkey said. “This is a big step within our community. This survey will give Bath Township leadership an idea of what the community wants in regards to medical marijuana and the types of facilities that are available to them.”

In 2016 the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) was passed authorizing five type of facilities for municipalities. Grower, secure transporter, provisioning center, processor and safety compliance facility are all included.

According to section 205 (1) of the MMFLA,

“No marijuana facility will be licensed by the State of Michigan unless and until the municipality has adopted an ordinance that has authorized that type of facility.”

The survey includes questions that are specific to the number of each facilities in Bath, to where they should be located and what land should be used.

Questions from the Bath medical marijuana survey are aimed to ask residents about locations of the facilities. https://bathtownship.us

Shorkey believes it is important to get the community’s input

“Creating these facilities brings a lot of potential for our community to expand,” Shorkey said. “Employment opportunity for our residents as well as a revenue source will help the rural community to grow as well as providing safe access to registered patients.”

Officer Avery Lyon of the Bath Police Department, knows if these types of facilities get approved, education of the law will be important in keeping everyone safe.

“Whenever you add something new to the community, it’s our job as a departement to keep everyone not only safe but make sure they are following the law,” Lyon said. “With these facilities we can see increased traffic that may not be legal, and safety issues that some people may see as concerns to having these facilities.”

As to the current state of marijuana in Bath, Lyon says he doesn’t receive many calls involving the drug. 

As of 2016, there were 8,303 patient who applied for a medical marijuana card and 1,578 caregivers in Ingham County according to the Marijuana Law and Business Group.

Austin Evans is a student at Michigan State University and has friends and family who have medcards. Said he believes marijuana can help with numerous medical cases and says he doesn’t mind marijuana becoming legal at a recreational level.  

“I have seen medical marijuana work,” Evans said. “It’s important for communities to have and provide safe access to facilities to those who need this specific service. It’s a business I would like to see grow not just in Michigan but across the country. ”

Marijuana on recreational level in the state of Michigan is not yet legal.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol turned in more than 360,000 signatures the Michigan Senate to get marijuana legalization initiative to be placed on Michigan’s November 2018 ballot.  

“Just like with alcohol, marijuana prohibition has been a huge failure,” said Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Spokesperson Josh Hovey. “Our initiative creates a tightly regulated system that will generate significant revenue for the state that will help fund our roads, public schools and local governments. Three of Michigan’s most underfunded needs.”

But the Michigan Chamber of Commerce opposes the 2018 ballot proposal to legalize the adult recreational use of marijuana. For they believe it would threaten the ability of employers to maintain a safe and drug-free workplace.

Wendy Block is the senior director of health policy, human resources and business advocacy for the chamber. She believes if this passes it could bring numerous problems for employers and employees.

“The proposal raises a host of questions related to drug-free workplace policies and employer rights,” Block said. “If this law was to pass, it could harm the reputation of the state as a destination for business growth.”  

This comes at a time where the growing debate of legalizing marijuana is once again in the spotlight on a federal level.

This past January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions got rid of an Obama-era policy that kept federal authorities from becoming involved in the marijuana trade in states where it is legal.

Sessions will now leave it up to federal prosecutors to decide what to do when state rules collide with federal drug law.

This has caused representatives on both sides of the aisle in Michigan to voice their opinion in support of keep marijuana laws in the hands of the states

State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) who has been outspoken on the issue, strongly believes in states rights and created a resolution that calls for AG Sessions to respect the will of Michigan residents or be replaced.

“The people of Michigan know what’s best for our own state, and we voted overwhelmingly to allow medical marijuana,” Rep. Rabhi said. “We don’t need the federal government to waste taxpayer money and fill our prisons with cancer patients and parents treating their epileptic children.”

On the other side, Rep. Jeff Yaroch (R-Richmond), who has also seen a problem with Session’s actions, called for more clarity between the states and the federal government.

“It should not be up to the local federal prosecutor as to whether to enforce federal law or not,” Yaroch said. “It is time for Congress to fulfill its duty under the Constitution to decide whether states will be allowed to regulate marijuana according to the will of the people.”

Michigan would become the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana, if approved on the ballot.

The survey is still available online to take on the Bath Charter Township website at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B89HD8D.

Once the responses have been gathered, the next step is for Shorkey to present the data to the city board and a motion be created to approve of the facilities.