By Tran Longmoore, www.thesalinepost.com
How might the City of Saline react if Michigan voters choose to legalize recreational marijuana?
Attorney Nicholas Curcio, of the city’s law firm, Dickinson Wright, outlined what passage of the measure might mean for the city at the June 18 city council work meeting.
Curcio told city council that municipalities might have the ability to choose whether they allow or prohibit marijuana retailers and microbusinesses.
Among other things, the proposal would: legalize possession and sale of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use for people over 21. Individuals could keep up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home; create a 10 percent excise tax at the retail level – splitting revenues with K-12 education, roads and the communities and counties where marijuana businesses are located; allow communities the ability to allow or prohibit marijuana businesses.
City officials who spoke at Monday’s meeting appeared cool to the proposal.
Police Chief Jerrod Hart voiced a couple concerns. Hart said he’s worried about police staffing levels. The Saline Police Department has 13 officers. Hart is worried that since banks are not permitted to take funds, marijuana operations will be a target for thieves.
“There would be a lot of cash floating around the community. For some elements, that will create opportunities,” Hart said.
Hart said transporters of marijuana could also cause safety concerns.
“Federal law prohibits weapons when transporting marijuana. They (transporters) wouldn’t be able to protect themselves with weapons and could be vulnerable,” Hart said.
City Councilor Jack Ceo, who spent a career in law enforcement, voiced several concerns. He’s concerned about more stoned drivers on the road.
“Stopping stoned drivers won’t be easy. There are no readily available and reliable road-side tests that I’m aware of that measure the amount of THC in the blood stream,” Ceo said.
Chief Hart agreed, noting that he’d seen a survey saying that 55 percent of people who smoked pot felt that it was safe to drive two hours after smoking.
Ceo pointed to Colorado crime rates rising faster than the national average since the state legalized pot.
“It’s a high cash business. I would worry about organized crime units moving in to take over,” Ceo said, adding that he questioned whether the promises of greater revenue will materialize.
Mayor Brian Marl said he has similar concerns about the ballot proposal.
“None of us are ever required to prove a negative. I don’t have to prove this won’t be good for the state. Proponents have to prove there are tangible benefits of this passing,” Marl said.
Marl said he supported the use of medical marijuana, saying there was overwhelming evidence suggesting its benefits for treating medical conditions.
“The way we distribute or access it is up for debate,” Marl said.