Pot debate a tough one, get involved now

Alpena leaders find themselves in a quandary as to whether to allow medical marijuana sales within the boundaries of the Downtown Development Authority district.

And, before we go any further, those boundaries extend many more blocks in each direction than what readers normally think of when they read the reference “downtown.” The DDA boundaries extend as far as 5th Avenue on one side of the Thunder Bay River and Walnut Street on the other.

The DDA board this week upheld a position they took earlier this year that the Alpena Municipal Council should allow one medical marijuana dispensary within the district. The Municipal Council, on the other hand, has not taken any action, yet, on the matter.

Naturally, the issue isn’t an easy one.

Some see marijuana as a new “cash cow” with the potential to generate lots of new revenue. Others can’t get beyond Cheech and Chong when they read marijuana in a headline.

Both perspectives certainly weigh in here, but what really has Alpena officials concerned is the potential loss of any Michigan Economic Development Corp. funding for a building that would be used for marijuana sales of any sort.

Because much of the MEDC funds originate from the feds, and since marijuana sales still are banned on a national level, any local building that would house a marijuana dispensary would no longer qualify for MEDC funds.

In the past MEDC funding has been used for things like building upgrades. And, in a downtown area that is quite old, many of the buildings within it are in need of updates, repairs, and renovations.

We respect both sides of the argument. We understand the concern over someone using a dilapidated building for medical marijuana sales and never improving its condition. Conversely, who are we to judge what a business does with its property, so long as it follows all the laws?

The spotlight now shifts back to the Municipal Council as the issue continues to be debated.

But that debate is going to end sometime soon.

If you have an opinion, now is the time to voice it. Otherwise you have no right to complain later.



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