RC bans pot stores

City joins others statewide after Prop 1 passed

ROGERS CITY — Retailers caught selling recreational marijuana in Rogers City can now be fined up to $500 in municipal court after Rogers City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to pass an ordinace prohibiting the sale of the drug in the city.

The decision comes nearly a month after the statewide passage of Proposal 1, which was approved by voters statewide in November legalized the recreational use of marijuna for those older than 21. That law goes into effect Thursday.

While the law is designed to regulate recreational marijuana like alchohol, it also allows municipalities to prohibit commercial sales within their boundaries. In choosing not to allow recreational marijuana to be sold in their communities, local governments forfeit a share of a state tax on the sale of the drug.

That’s what Rogers City did on Tuesday.

Rogers City City Manager Joseph Hefele said the urgency behind the ordinance is because the city needs to approve a marijuana policy before an application for a retail marijuana estabishment in Rogers City is submitted with the state. If an application for a retail marijuana establishment were to be submitted before the city passed an ordinance, the state would consider the application, he said.

“This isn’t just Rogers City backward thinking,” he said. “We’re doing a responsible thing and we’re doing a thing that almost every community in the state is doing.”

Mayor Scott McLennan also said council did the responsible thing in taking the time to allow the state to catch up with the new legislation and provide municipalities with responsible guidelines. He said there are just too many unknowns the state hasn’t answered yet.

“The state has to first come up with guidelines and a great number of communities in the state are waiting to see what happens with that,” he said.

He said council’s decision also reflected the residents of Rogers City, who voted three-to-two against recreational marijuana.

Jennifer Rigterink, legislative associate with the Michigan Municipal League, said in an email to The News that municipalities are reaching out to the organization with lots of questions since the passage of Proposal 1, and that it’s a complicated issue. She said some municipalities are prohibiting commercial sales as a safeguard until the Michigan Department of Liscensing and Regulatory Affairs sets rules and requirements for how the drug will be regulated.

“There is no timeline on opting out nor is there anything to stop a community who opts out from revisiting the decision in the future and changing it,” she said.

Hillman has already passed a prohibition on pot stores, and Alpena Township has begun discussions on the issue and is planning to make a decision Dec. 17.

McLennan said city council will continue to study the issue moving forward.

The ordinance passed Tuesday will not impact individuals 21 and older who choose to use marijuana like alcohol.

Rogers City residents are still able to purchase, transport and consume up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana under the new law. Residents are also able to have up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their home — although any more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana is required to be kept in a locked container — and grow up to 12 plants for personal consumption.

The ordinance simply prohibits pot stores from opening in Rogers City.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at (989) 358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.