TEMPERANCE — Bedford Township has begun the discussion many other Michigan municipalities are having since the state's latest medical marijuana laws took effect Dec. 15.
The township board had a lengthy discussion during its Jan. 2 meeting about how to proceed. Medical marijuana was legalized in Michigan in 2008, but rules for governing its distribution are just now going on the books.
The Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MFFLA) allows for the growing, processing, testing, transportation, and sale of medicinal pot. It also permits municipalities to disallow such businesses in their jurisdiction.
Bedford’s board decided to postpone any action until March, allowing board members time to research the issue. Townships can decide to opt in, opt out, or do nothing.
"There's still a lot of confusion," Trustee Rick Steiner said. "It would hard to opt in even if we wanted to because we'd be opting in to something where we don't even know what the laws say yet. With medical marijuana, I don't really hear there's a shortage out there. I don't know why we need to help all these facilities."
Township Supervisor Paul Pirrone said he has met with many people and talked to "hundreds" who want to get into the business. He receives phone calls nearly every day on the subject.
The board considered sending a survey to residents to gauge public opinion on medical marijuana, but concluded it would be too costly. Trustee Nancy Tienvieri noted five Monroe County communities have opted out.
The MFFLA is an extension of the original legislation, which covered patients and caregivers. The new act allows five different types of licenses.
Trustee Paul Francis also voiced his concerns.
"[The licenses are] not cheap," he said. "They start at $5,000 and go up, and that's annually. It's all about money, not about providing help for those who need it. Those who have a card can get what they need locally right now."
At times, the conversation shifted to recreational marijuana.
TO THE EDITOR: Marijuana safeguards need to be put in place
Smoking pot recreationally is illegal in Michigan, but a statewide vote in November is likely. Organizers turned over 365,000 signatures supporting a ballot measure. If 70 percent of the signatures are deemed valid, the issue will be sent to the ballot.
Resident and former Michigan State Police officer Logan Tisdale made it clear he doesn't want marijuana of any kind in his community.
"You think it will stop with marijuana? Next it'll be cocaine and opium," he said. "America the beautiful will become America the stoned. Maybe we're already there. The bottom line is we can't allow this to happen."
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.