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Four Metro Detroit communities reject proposals for legal marijuana dispensaries

Voter rejected proposals to allow marijuana dispensaries to make sales in their cities
Idaho Secretary of State Elections Office
Voter rejected proposals to allow marijuana dispensaries to make sales in their cities.

Voters in Keego Harbor, Rochester, and Birmingham in Oakland County, and Grosse Pointe Park in Wayne County, rejected ordinances that would have allowed for the sale of pot in their cities.

Adult use of recreational marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2018 when it was approved in a ballot proposal. But communities are allowed to opt out of allowing retailers within their borders.

In Keego Harbor, a proposal to allow a single retailer failed 53.5% to 46.5%. A proposal for two retailers failed with 60.5% saying no.

Rochester voters overwhelmingly rejected two proposals which would have allowed for three dispensaries (89.2% said no) and a licensing process (87.4% said no). Likewise, voters in Grosse Pointe Park rejected plans to allow two dispensaries. The first proposal, rejected by 77.6% of voters, would have simply allowed the shops to sell cannabis. The second proposal would have created a licensing process, and 66.7% said no.

“Well, speaking for Birmingham, the residents, I think it's not that we're real conservative and don't want it,” said Birmingham City Commissioner Brad Host. Voters in his city rejected a measure for a pair of facilities 73.5% to 26.5%. “The point would be that it surrounds us, you know, the cities that have the cannabis shops. And, as such, that's good enough for us. We don't need it right here.”

Michigan cities that have dispensaries can benefit from tax revenue. Host, however, said the Birmingham City Commission's focus was less on money and more on the community. “As a commission, when we put the proposition together, we weren't thinking about that aspect at all,” Host said.

Noah Harfouch, a member of the Open Stores Committee, which supported efforts to pass pro-dispensary proposals, released a statement saying his group had "made significant progress in initiating dialogue with local communities about the benefits of the cannabis industry."

"We knew that these election results would be a part of the plan and were always a part of our strategy," Harfouch said.

“These conversations, coupled with ballot initiatives, are integral to our long-term strategy to educate the public about the cannabis industry, reduce stigma, and alleviate the fear that hinders community acceptance. We remain dedicated to furthering this dialogue and focusing on educating communities to cultivate an informed view of cannabis within these communities," said Harfouch.

Host said that the votes were an indication that the community didn’t want dispensaries. “I think it's safe to say that overwhelmingly the Birmingham people don't want it here,” Host said.

A.J. Jones is a newsroom intern and graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Sources say he owns a dog named Taffy.
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