Joe Greene, mayor, Caro

Mayor urges Caro City Council to consider ‘economic benefits’ of medical marijuana

Joe Greene, mayor, Caro
Joe Greene, mayor, Caro

Caro City Council has joined officials from Vassar and Reese in beginning discussions about adopting a medical marijuana ordinance, and whether or not the economics make sense.

Mayor Joe Greene provided the other members of Caro City Council with a copy of the medical marijuana law in early December, and attempted to follow up at the board’s Dec. 19 meeting.

“I encourage everyone to study up on the economic benefits for the town, and the jobs, and all the aspects of this new law,” Greene said.

In November, The Advertiser reported the number of marijuana cards in the county has doubled in one year. The article also reported Vassar City Council discussed the matter with the potential for a positive economic impact toward the city.

Village of Reese followed suit in early December and also publicly addressed the topic and is expected to discuss the matter more in January.

“Like Vassar and Reese are saying, if we don’t move on it we’ll be left in the dust,” Greene said, adding that it might be worthwhile for council members to take part in a workshop on the subject of medical marijuana.

From a legal perspective, more than 60 percent of Michigan voters approved the Michigan Marihuana Act on Nov. 4, 2008.

Per that act, those with medical marijuana cards can have only 2.5 ounces of marijuana in their possession that is either grown by them or provided by a so-called “caregiver.” The state provides comprehensive background on the most up-to-date rules and regulations at http://1.usa.gov/1NUfAsA.

However, at the time, the state law did not account for distribution and dispensaries — or local economic impact.

That changed in September, when Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a series of bills that go into effect in late 2017 and essentially legalize and regulate medical marijuana edibles and dispensaries.

Specifically, the bills were:

• House Bill 4209, now Public Act 281, establishing the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act to license and regulate growth, processing, transport and provisioning of medical marijuana.

• House Bill 4210, now Public Act 282, amends the voter-initiated Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008 to allow for the manufacture and use (by qualified patients) of marijuana-infused products.

• House Bill 4827, now Public Act 283, creates the Marihuana Tracking Act that includes a seed-to-sale tracking system to track all medical marijuana.

In short, the new law effectively creates the framework for a medical marijuana industry by regulating the growth, processing, transport, sales and taxation of the drug.

Individual communities can assess annual license fees of up to $5,000 per facility, and also receive a share of the new 3 percent state sales tax imposed on the entities’ gross retail receipts.

According to a Michigan Townships Association report on the new law, the five entities allowed under the new law may be “quite profitable.” The five entities are: growers, processors, provisioning centers, secured transporters and safety compliance.

Steve Erickson, executive director, Tuscola County Economic Development Corp., said he has been approached by at least one entrepreneur expressing interest in opening a medical marijuana facility in Caro.

The only Caro City Council member to comment on Greene’s suggestion to learn more was Gordon Taggett.

“As a council member, and as a member of the planning commission, in talking about the medical marijuana I would like to remind everybody when you’re talking to people in the community, don’t just use your idea about marijuana and marijuana legalization,” Taggett said. “Listen to the people that put you in office, because they’re the ones who put you in office, and they’re the ones we’re supposed to represent.”

The next Caro City Council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 3, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at andrew@tcadvertiser.com

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