Proposed marijuana amendment likely headed to ballot

by Peter Jakey-Managing Editor

Members of the Onaway City Commission received a copy of a proposed marijuana charter amendment initiated by a citizen petition drive.

Ron Langworthy was the circulator of the petitions and there were sufficient valid signatures to have the measure move forward.

The amendment proposed would add Section 2.14, entitled “Marijuana” to read “nothing in the code of ordinances shall apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than one ounce of marijuana on private property, or transportation of less than one ounce of marijuana, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years.”

City attorney Mike Vogler told the commission the ballot language would be sent to the governor’s office and then forwarded to the state attorney general’s office where the language will be opposed because the state prohibits recreational marijuana; however, it still will end up on the November ballot.

In Hefele’s manager’s report, he stated, “My position is not for, or against marijuana. I simply do not support language that is this specific in the charter on any topic, as things change over time and things like this can present problems to future commissions.”

There was no vote on the language, but it was sent on to Lansing.

If the ballot question passes in November, commissioner Bernie Schmeltzer believes it would still be illegal to use recreational marijuana. “It’s against federal and state law,” he said. “How can you vote on something that is illegal? That would be my question. The law still can be enforced and people could still could be ticketed or fined. You can’t trump state law.”

The group organizing the amendment plans a future public meeting to present more information about the measure.

In another somewhat related matter, Hefele reported on the possibility of a medical marijuana provisioning center opening in town.

Hefele said he and Vogler have been in conversations with people/groups about this for a few months,

The state is in the process of considering House Bill 4271, which would allow the facilities in Michigan, but has not been passed by the senate or signed by the governor.

Hefele told the commission that he heard late last week that a facility may open within “a week or so, with or without zoning clearance,” which could be in violation of state law or a zoning violation.

The city manager said he has received calls from people in the community upset that one could possibly open in Onaway. Hefele would like to conduct a public hearing to hear all sides of the issue.

In other business:

• Hefele said there will be a meeting Aug. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the Industrial Arts Institute in consideration of the creation of a new Onaway chamber of commerce.

“I believe at this meeting they will be seeking input as to what folks expect from their chamber, what the new chamber should be named and who should serve on the initial board,” stated Hefele in his report.

• The paving projects on North Elm and North Veterans are scheduled to take place this month.

The subcontractor doing the milling work for Goodrich Asphalt is currently working in Alpena and will be mobilizing to Onaway once the work in Alpena is completed.