ESCANABA — Many communities in the U.P. are deciding how they are going to respond to the legalization of marijuana following voter approval of Proposal One in November.
Delta County Prosecutor Brett Gardner told city and township officials at the Joint Governmental Meeting Monday that communities need to opt out or make a decision to opt in rather than do nothing when it comes to allowing commercial marijuana sales under Proposal One.
He says it will be too late if they wait to see what the state might do to regulate marijuana sales.
“There has to be some action taken,” Gardner said. “You can’t wait until the last minute. If you get to that point a year from Dec. 6 and those applications are coming I don’t know how you’re going to be able to limit it at that point. You’re playing catch up. That’s why it’s very, very important to start now.”
The state has a year to develop regulations. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she wants it done in six months. By opting out now, Gardner says they will be protecting the community.
He developed two ordinances they could use to opt out. One would begin to lay the ground work for when or if the community decides to allow marijuana sales.
“And one of them is an opt out with a referral to the planning commission to hold hearings, do research, make a decision on, if you do do it, here’s where it’s going to be, here’s how you’re going to regulate it,” said Gardner.
Currently, Gladstone is developing an ordinance to opt out of allowing commercial sales of marijuana within the city. The Escanaba City Council has opted for now to wait and see what the state has to say about it.