Marquette discusses the possibility of marijuana retailers

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MARQUETTE — Proposal one on the November ballot passed with nearly 60 percent of voters saying ‘yes’ to recreational marijuana and to retailers selling marijuana. On December 6th of last year, the initiative went into effect; and while personal marijuana is now legal, individual municipalities within the state are faced with a decision.

Ron Keefe, Marquette City Attorney, explains, “The law has already been made as to use of individual marijuana, and individuals over the age of 21 can use a certain amount of marijuana can have it in his possession and he can have it in his residence. That’s been established, there’s no fight there. The only real decisions that have to be made by municipalities now is whether or not they’re going to allow commercial establishments within their jurisdictions.”

A city work session was held tonight to hear public comment and discuss the details of the new marijuana legalization law and what this means for the city.

Ron Keefe, continues, “It’s really up to the commission as to whether or not they want to opt-in and allow commercial establishments in the city or opt-out and that’s basically what’s going to be decided at a later date.”

The city commission must decide to opt-out of allowing marijuana retailers; if they do not say they opt-out, the city will automatically be opted-in. 

Representative Sara Cambensy was at the work session tonight to discuss what is happening at the state level. Cambensy went over the rules laid out so far by the state when it comes to taxing and selling marijuana.

Sara Cambensy, State Representative, 109th district, told commissioners, “You can see that the state does not have it all figured out. These are the guidelines we have so far.”

A large draw for allowing marijuana retailers include the tax and tourism revenue that would be brought in to the city. The municipality can also choose to charge a $5,000 fee to businesses selling marijuana. 

Some details that were brought up that the city would need to discuss before allowing businesses to sell marijuana included proper and reasonable signage for the business, regulating times and hours of sale, whether to authorize businesses with customers under the age of 21 to sell marijuana (which is only permitted for those over 21), and allowing businesses to obtain a municipal license.

At this time, the city commission has not made a decision to allow commercial retail of marijuana. Some commissioners expressed concern over the lack of rules set by the state government and said they would like to wait until the state has set guidelines. Overall, the public comment by present community members were in favor of allowing businesses to sell marijuana.

If you would like to speak to a Marquette City commissioner about this issue, you can find their contact information here.

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