Scottville ordinance committee hears more sides on marijuana topic.

February 21, 2018

Prosecutor Paul Spaniola addresses the meeting.

Scottville ordinance committee hears more sides on marijuana topic.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — The Scottville ordinance committee heard another side of the medical marijuana topic Wednesday during its regular meeting, held at the Scottville Area Senior Center. In January, a consultant representing Michigan Marijuana Law Experts (MMLE) spoke about the potential benefits of the city opting to pass an ordinance allowing a medical marijuana dispensary or a grow facility. On Thursday, Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole and Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Spaniola presented a different side of the topic.

Sheriff Kim Cole

The ordinance committee consists of city commissioners Marcy Spencer and Sally Cole, along with Mayor Bruce Krieger. The committee will decide if it will recommend the City Commission consider creating an ordinance to opt into, or opt out of the Michigan Marijuana Facilities and Licensing Act (MMFLA). State law allows for municipalities to create ordinances in favor or against dispensaries and/or grow facilities. It also allows municipalities to choose to take no action, therefore not allowing any of the facilities in the city limits.

The topic was initiated in December when Ludington resident Dan Reynolds asked the City Commission to hear from Tom Reif of MMLE.

“I’m not against a person who lawfully carries a medical marijuana card,” Sheriff Cole said. “But, I am going to present to you about some of the challenges that medical marijuana brings to our community.”

Cole said that 218,556 people in Michigan, about 2 percent of the population, have medical marijuana cards; 733 people in Mason County have medical marijuana cards. Since 2012, there has been a 76 percent increase in patient card holders in the state and a 56 percent increase in Mason County. The largest age group to possess the cards, 92 percent, is between the ages of 18 to 24. Cole said the majority of people claim they need the cards for chronic pain.

During the January meeting, Reif said one of the benefits of opting into the MMFLA is that it will provide state and municipal oversight to the process of medical marijuana distribution, which is currently handled by caregivers.

Spaniola addressed that topic during the recent meeting and said that the caregiver program will still exist.

Several dozen people attended the meeting and they were given the opportunity to speak to the committee members as well. A majority of the people speaking in favor of allowing the facilities were not city residents, business owners, or property owners.

Spencer Johnson, 411 S. Main St., said he was in favor of allowing the facilities. “As far as safety goes, this will be marijuana grown in a lab,” he said.

Bruce Burke, Logan Township supervisor, said he was in favor of such an ordinance allowing facilities because it would allow for greater control.

“I feel that this new marijuana ordinance is our first step in gaining control,” Burke said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s out of control right now.”

Former Mason County Sheriff Walt Carrier said he has never seen anything good come from marijuana use.

“Frankly, I’ve seen a lot of marijuana in my life and I have never seen anything but bad come out of it. It’s not just law enforcement. Is this the picture of what you want in Scottville? That’s not progressive.”

Randy Wyman, a city resident and owner of Wyman Funeral and Cremation Services — Stephens Funeral Home in Scottville, spoke against the measure.

“As a funeral director for 33 years, I have yet to see where marijuana has been a good thing,” Wyman said. “To be fair, I have yet to see where alcohol has been a good thing either.

“Our property values are going to go down and that means our tax dollars are going to go down. On top of that, we are going to have to increase policing in our community. What businesses are going to want to come into this community where marijuana is readily available. We have a lot to lose and very little to gain.”

For complete coverage of the meeting, check out the video on Mason County Press’ Facebook page.

This story is copyrighted © 2018, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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