County Board passes resolution opposing the general use of marijuana in Crawford County
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
After little debate last week, the Crawford County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution in opposition of the legalization of marijuana for general use in Crawford County.
In April, the Board of State Canvassers determined that a petition contained a sufficient number of valid signatures submitted by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. The proposal will be on the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election ballot.
However, state officials have until Friday, Sept. 7, to determine the exact ballot language for the proposal to legalize marijuana for general use, said Laura Lehman, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State.
Before voters get their say at the polls, the Crawford County Board passed a resolution to oppose the legalization of marijuana for general use at its regular monthly meeting held on Thursday, Aug. 23.
The resolution states that general marijuana use and possession is not permitted by federal and state law.
Also, the resolution states that the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that one in six teens who use marijuana become addicted to its use. Marijuana is now the number one reason kids enter treatment for substance abuse – more than alcohol, cocaine, heroin, meth, ecstasy, and other drugs combined.
The Monitoring the Future 2017 reports that marijuana use increased to 24 percent among adolescents in eighth, 10th and 12th grades combined and one in 10 12th grade students vaped marijuana in the past year.
Further, the University of Colorado, Denver reported that marijuana-impaired driver related fatalities have risen 114 percent in Colorado since that state legalized the use of marijuana.
The resolution states that increased consumption of marijuana would likely lead to high public health and financial costs for society. Addictive substances like alcohol and tobacco already result in much higher social costs than the revenue they generate. The cost of alcohol alone is estimated to be more than 15 times the revenues gained by their taxation, according to an American Journal of Preventive Medicine report.
The resolution says emergency room admissions for marijuana use now exceed those for heroin and are continuing to rise. The link between suicide and marijuana is strong, according to the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.
Further, the resolution states that it is not possible to foresee and mitigate the associated risks and impact to communities through the legalization of marijuana for general use.
Finally, the Crawford County Board of Commissioners encouraged other communities to oppose the legalization of marijuana for general use including the adoption of similar resolutions in opposition to legalization of non-medical marijuana.
A copy of the resolution is being sent to the Michigan Association of Counties, the Michigan Township Association, and the Michigan Municipal League.
The resolution passed by a five-to-one vote, with Shelley Pinkelman, the vice chair for the board of commissions, casting the lone no vote.
“It’s really not going to mean anything if the people vote for it,” Pinkelman said.
Dave Stephenson, the chairman of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners, stressed that more resources need to be spent on the prevention of substance abuse instead of trying to fix the problem afterwards.
“If you see the results of what’s happening in our community already, working with the school systems, the prevention groups and the police, this is just going to add to that and the number of people ending up in the emergency room is going to increase,” Stephenson said.
County Commissioner Rick Anderson said individual taxpayers would foot the bill for treatment of people who become addicted to marijuana at the cost of businesses that sell the products.
“It’s just going to an albatross around our neck, an ankle weight that we can’t afford,” Anderson said. “We can’t afford the stuff that we have now.”
Anderson, who has served on substance abuse boards, said counties are already saddled with dealing with the opioid epidemic, funding drug treatment programs, and dealing with overdose deaths.
“This is a crying shame. It breaks my heart,” he said.
Commissioner Jamie McClain pointed out that although voters can decide the proposal at 18, they will not be able to purchase and possess marijuana until they are 21.
Advocates for the proposal say the intent is to remove the commercial production and distribution of marijuana from the illicit market, and prevent revenue generated from commerce in marijuana from going to criminal enterprises or gangs.
In addition to all other taxes, an excise tax would be imposed on each marijuana retailer and on each marijuana microbusiness at the rate of 10 percent of the sales price for marijuana sold or otherwise transferred to anyone other than a marijuana establishment.
Marijuana legalization would raise $100 million to $200 million per year based on the proposed 10 percent tax rate.
If the proposal is passed, the Department of Treasury would expend money for the implementation, administration, and enforcement of the act, and until 2022 or for at least two years, to provide $20 million annually to one or more clinical trials that are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and sponsored by a non-profit organization or researcher within an academic institution researching the efficacy of marijuana in treating the medical conditions of United States armed services veterans and preventing veteran suicide.
Upon appropriation, unexpended balances must be allocated as follows:
• 15 percent to municipalities in which a marijuana retail store or a marijuana microbusiness is located, allocated in proportion to the number of marijuana retail stores and marijuana microbusinesses within the municipality;
• 15 precent to counties in which a marijuana retail store or a marijuana microbusiness is located, allocated in proportion to the number of marijuana retail stores and marijuana microbusinesses within the county;
• 35 percent to the school aid fund to be used for K-12 education;
• 35 precent to the Michigan Transportation fund to be used for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges.
No marijuana processor may process and no marijuana retailer may sell edible marijuana-infused candy in shapes or packages that are attractive to children or that are easily confused with commercially sold candy that does not contain marijuana.
The act, if approved by voters, would not conflict with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which was passed by voters at the polls in 2008. It also would not conflict with the medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, which was approved by the Legislature in 2016 to clarify how medical marijuana can be distributed by care givers and provisioning centers.
Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield said he is pleased with the county board’s stance on the proposal.
“It’s crazy. We’re heading into the beginning of the end if this gets passed,” he said. “I know it’s all about money, and some people take money to do things, and I think that’s terrible. As far as the recreational use of it, there’s enough people out there using it recreationally anyways. Why pass a law that allows it? I think it’s stupid.”