Citizens Urge “Opting Out” of Proposal 1, Chelsea Holds First Ordinance Reading

By Seth Kinker,

On Mar. 4 the city of Chelsea held a public hearing regarding Proposal 1 and had the first reading of Ordinance No. 180 that would add the prohibition of marihuana establishments within the city to chapter eight of the city code.

Since the passing of Proposal 1 in November of 2018, which legalized recreational marijuana for those 21 years and older in the state of Michigan, each municipality was required to decide if it was to allow or prohibit state-licensed recreational marijuana establishments.

Different from the prior medical proposals that have passed in the state, every municipality is considered to be “in” unless it takes specific action to opt out.

The city council held two work sessions after the passing of Proposal 1, one in late 2018 and one at the beginning of this year.

Council discussed many different aspects, both positive and negative, of the potential to bring marijuana establishments to Chelsea. The big unknown at the time remains to be the state’s lack of regulations that have to be set within a year of Proposal 1 passing. If no regulations are established, then establishments can come into areas with the municipalities in charge of setting those ordinances. Which, in turn, could conflict with state regulations when established at a later date.

Since the passing of Proposal 1, there has been some public comment at city council meetings speaking against Chelsea opting in. Mar. 4 was no different as members of SRSLY and others in the community spoke out against it both at the public comment portion and during the public

“Choosing to opt out of Proposal 1 is choosing the youth of our community first,” said Renae Kempf, a Chelsea graduate and resident. “Opting out shows the youth that leaders in our community care about their health and development. While marijuana is certainly not legal for youth, allowing something would only increase the ease of access and could ultimately result in higher youth usage statistics.”

Matt Jordan, a Chelsea resident who gave full disclosure as a manager for the State Licensing Section of the Health Facility Licensing, Permits, and Support Division in the Bureau of Community and Health Systems at the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs or LARA also spoke in favor of opting out of Proposal 1.

“I am not here representing that agency, I am here as a father and citizen of Chelsea,” said Jordan. “Given Chelsea’s history; what the community provides, the world class hospital that’s here, the work that SRSLY has done, our schools, everything from our industries to our small town to our farmers, I think all of those need to be considered before you move forward with your decision. My preference is to opt out, it fits well with the Chelsea community.”

After City Manager John Hanifan read the first reading of ordinance no. 180 that would prohibit marijuana establishments, council approved the first reading in a 6-1 vote and placed a second reading on the Mar. 18 council agenda. Rick Catherman cast the lone vote against prohibiting.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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