Marijuana establishment ban back on the ballot for Michigan town

CRYSTAL LAKE TWP., MICH. — Voters in Crystal Lake Township will again vote on whether or not to ban marijuana establishments from opening within township limits.

The vote will be held on March 10 during the presidential primary.

The simple ballot item states the proposal would “Prohibit all marihuana establishments, as defined by the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, within Crystal Lake Township.”

It also would require the township to establish penalties for violating the ordinance.

The proposed ban is the result of a successful petition drive started by a group of residents opposed to marijuana establishments in the township after the township, and the State of Michigan, voted to decriminalize marijuana in 2018.

Amy Ferris, township supervisor, said the ban would have an impact on recreational marijuana establishments, not medical.

This will be the second time voters weigh in on marijuana establishments in Crystal Lake Township. A special election was held in August. The ballot proposal won with 145 “yes” votes to 107 “no” votes.

However, the township’s legal counsel offered an opinion stating the election was invalid due to timing.

According to the township attorney, language in the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act of 2018 states the township must submit the initiated ordinances to the electors of the township during the next regular election.

The attorney stated Michigan law determines regular election to be an election held on a regular election date to elect an individual to, or nominate an individual for, elective office in the regular course of the terms of that elective office.

He also stated several days considered to be regular elections dates, which the Aug. 6 date was one of. However, because the sole purpose of the Aug. 6 election was to vote on the proposal, and no officials were being elected, it was considered a special election.

“The election was held on Aug. 6, which was the first Tuesday after the first Monday in August,” the letter read. “Therefore, the election was held on the next regular election date. However, because the Aug. 6 election did not elect an individual to, or nominate an individual for, elective office in the regular course of the terms of that elective office, that election was not technically a regular election, as defined in the Michigan Election Law.”

Several votes to create an ordinance banning marijuana establishments have failed in Crystal Lake Township meetings. Some members of the board thought they should let the people vote on the issue, and that some people may not have come out to vote because it was a special election. Others said the vote, even if invalid, showed the people supported a ban.

By Colin Merry