Mayor’s corner:  ad hoc marijuana committee

February 12, 2019

Mayor’s corner:  ad hoc marijuana committee

#MayorsCorner #LudingtonNews

By Mayor Steve Miller, City of Ludington.

At its last meeting, Monday night, the Ludington City Council, demonstrated its ambition and fortitude to confront difficult and controversial subject matter.  

An ordinance was unanimously adopted to form an Ad Hoc committee, empanelled specifically to compose an unbiased report, detailing the potential effects (both positive and negative) of the sale of recreational marijuana within the city limits.

I will chair the committee that will consist of city councilors Kathy Winczewski, Angela Serna, and David Bourgette; planning commission liaison, John Terzano, and three city residents.

Anyone interested in being considered for one of three citizen member positions is welcome to attend an open meeting at City Hall, 400 S. Harrison St., on Tuesday, March 5 at 7 p.m.  

The requisites necessary to be seated on the committee are proof of age (21 or over); Ludington city residency; and voter eligibility.  Lastly, each person vying for a seat must demonstrate the willingness to make a personal, influential statement to the gathered assembly.
The three panelists will be selected via majority vote from their peers based upon the persuasiveness of the presentation of their qualifications.

Only citizens meeting the selection criteria can be seated on the committee.

To be absolutely clear, the sole purpose of this committee will be to offer information, so that prior to delivering its ultimate decision to allow/not allow recreational marijuana dispensaries within the city limits, the City Council will have equal access to empirical data, collected without opinion, emotion, or personal agenda.

The ad hoc committee will function under the same regulations and procedures as all other seated commissions, councils, and boards operating under the authority of our city government.  However, upon its conclusion and presentation of its report, the committee will not offer, nor respond to any request for opinion or recommendation, to the City Council.

There’s no dispute over how socially controversial and polarizing the subject can be, as nearly everyone has an intrinsic attitude toward the use of marijuana.  That is why it becomes an imperative to all seated on this committee to extricate themselves from any preconceived judgments or beliefs as they gather the information to be presented.   

I have received countless letters, phone calls, texts, emails, social media messages, and personal visits dedicated to the wishes of people wanting to be part of the research process.  Many of those proposals have come from outside our city limits with personal or business agendas attached.

And, while I appreciate the attention and offers of assistance, the initial decision to allow/not allow dispensaries is one that falls directly upon the shoulders and conscience of our elected council.  Therefore, under an equally mixed administration of citizens and city government officials, I think the ad hoc committee will be capable of appropriately researching and preparing a comprehensive report, balancing the advantages and disadvantages of the numerous factors necessary to be considered, prior to Council’s consideration of a final vote.

Once the committee is formally approved by a majority vote at the March 11 City Council meeting, I’m setting a six month deadline for the completion and public presentation of the report.  A formal presentation to City Council is targeted for September 23 with a public hearing on the subject to be requested at the October 14 cuncil meeting.

Given time to digest the interpreted results of the report and the input of citizens, I’ll be asking Council to be prepared to make a statement of intent regarding the sale of recreational marijuana within the city limits at the scheduled October 14 council meeting.

These dates are targets, and may be subject to change.  However, it’s essential to move proactively toward reaching an inevitable conclusion.  And, I think this is the best path forward.

Lastly, I’d like to thank City Council for recognizing the importance of this issue and their support of the ordinance passed to make this ad hoc committee a reality.

Steve Miller, Mayor

City of Ludington

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