Harrisville ponders its pot options

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that voters in the City of Harrisville voted narrowly in favor in the November election of legalizing recreational marijuana, 119 to 115. That information was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

HARRISVILLE — Harrisville Mayor Jeffrey Gehring will ask the city’s Planning Commission to convene a special meeting to discuss the city’s options pertaining to the sale of recreational marijuana, now that the drug is legal in the state.

Gehring notified the council of his plans during its monthly board meeting Monday.

Gerhring told council members that he, along with Clerk Barbara Pierce, spoke to a consultant who had worked extensively with Au Gres Township, which is similar in size to the City of Harrisville. Gehring said he would like the consultant to “go over some opportunities” with the Planning Commission at that meeting.

Gehring said he didn’t want to commit the city as either for or against the sale of recreational marijuana during the meeting.

“I would like to get our city prepared and ready to go for whatever the future brings, and make sure we do it in an expeditious manner,” he said.

Harrisville Alderman Mike Baird said Monday that the Planning Commission recently tabled any action on a recreational marijuana ordinance because the five commissioners believed they didn’t have enough knowledge on the subject because it is so new.

He expressed support for the mayor’s request.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Michigan by voters in November, and the drug is to be regulated like alcohol. Cities who allow the sale of recreational marijuana in their limits stand to earn a percentage of revenue generated from a tax on the sale of the drug.

However, a number of cities throughout the state — including several in Northeast Michigan — have chosen to ban the sale of marijuana in their towns. In doing so, they forfeit any additional tax money from the sale of the drug.

Harrisville city Attorney Dave Cook told council a lot of municipalities who are “opting out” — or banning the sale of marijuana in their limits — are not doing so because they don’t want recreational marijuana to be sold there. Instead, he said, they are using that as a mechanism to buy themselves time until the state comes up with official regulations governing commercial marijuana sales.

Voters in the City of Harrisville narrowly voted in favor of the marijuana measure in November, by a 119-to-115 vote.

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