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Ballot proposal could stop sale of recreational marijuana in Lapeer

Marijuana leaf
Creative Commons
Marijuana leaf

Voters in Lapeer, Michigan will decide if they want to stop the sale of recreational marijuana in the city.

If passed, the ballot proposal could put existing recreational marijuana dispensaries out of business, put their employees out of work and stop planned growing operations in the city.

The proposal was introduced by former Lapeer City Commissioner Dan Osentoski, who died last month. Osentoski initiated the petition drive to stop the sale of recreational marijuana last year. He turned in 220 signatures, the County Press reported.

The city has six recreational marijuana dispensaries, per the city’s current limit on licenses. There are also a number of planned growing operations that would be stopped.

The first recreational marijuana sales in Michigan occurred in December 2019 after Michigan voters approved adult recreational marijuana use in 2018. Mike Bahoura, owner of Pure Lapeer, a dispensary in Lapeer, said they would have no choice but to sue the city for damages. Bahoura is also a cannabis business attorney.

“Just because we’re cannabis, we shouldn’t be treated any different,” he said. “We have licenses that you cannot legally revoke without due process.”

Current Lapeer City Commissioner Eric Cattane said in a Facebook video urging people to vote no on the proposal that the city could be forced to raise taxes to defend the proposal’s legality. He suggested that Pure Lapeer would be the first of many to sue the city if the proposal passed.

“If this ballot initiative passes, we will yank those licenses from those companies,” Cattane said. “We will have no choice… Soon after, they’re going to start filing lawsuits… It’s going to be a long, drawn-out, painful, headache-ulcer. Not for me, but for all of us because we don’t know what the future is going to hold for about a year and a half.”

Bahoura said he believes the proposal won’t pass if voter turnout is high enough. He said he has hope but also recognizes that this is an off-year election.

Four other Michigan cities will also have marijuana-related proposals on the ballot. Perry and Potterville will vote on whether to repeal their cities' bans on marijuana businesses. Clawson and Rockwood are voting on whether to authorize marijuana businesses.

Sophia Kalakailo joined Michigan Radio in Sept. 2021 and is a senior at Michigan State University studying journalism and minoring in documentary production. She previously interned at Bridge Michigan and was an editor for The State News and The Eastern Echo covering a wide range of topics.
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