Local bans limit options for aspiring marijuana businesses

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — About 39% of Michigan communities that approved a recreational marijuana ballot measure last year have since introduced local bans that prohibit businesses selling pot.

Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency issued emergency rules in July giving local authorities six months to introduce bans before it starts to accept applications for business licenses Nov. 1.

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Bruce Barcott, deputy editor of the Washington state-based marijuana news and information website Leafly, described the local bans as the “second phase of legalization.”

“Smaller municipalities tend to want the big cities to go first and offer them reassurance that the sky won’t fall, that crime rates won’t skyrocket, that teen access won’t go up,” he said.

Ten other states and the District of Columbia have legalized smoking or eating marijuana for recreational use since 2012.

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“California really has a problem with local bans, and it’s stifling the transition from the illicit market to the legal regulated market,” Barcott said. “They’re not seeing as much tax revenue as they had planned for because so many counties and towns have prohibited farmers and stores from opening up shop.”

Local prohibitions on legal sales tend to encourage the black market to flourish.

“You’re enabling and encouraging the illicit sale of cannabis,” he said.

Residents recently attempted to overturn vetoes on pot businesses in two Michigan towns by gathering signatures and putting initiatives on the ballot. But in Highland Park, a city of 11,776 people in Wayne County, and in Vanderbilt, a village of 562 people in northern Michigan, their polling efforts were unsuccessful.


Information from: The Grand Rapids,

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