2017-03-30 / Views

Elected officials to decide on marijuana

our opinion

We as a society need to make marijuana more available to, wink-wink, improve our health.

At least three commercial medical marijuana growers are looking into setting up shop in Leelanau County after a change in state law gives local governments a bigger say in where they can locate. It’s part of a mainstreaming of marijuana use that is sweeping the nation with roots in pot’s power to push away pain and nausea from people with ailments and diseases.

But before we come into full acceptance of marijuana as a pain reliever of choice, let’s come to an understanding that the movement to legitimize pot sales is being carried out at two levels.

There’s the practical level — where local governments might allow marijuana-growing factories and shops to locate, their impact on neighbors, and other zoning issues. It’s the commercial side to pot, which was bound to happen. After all, this is America.

Local governments will enjoy an economic benefit with new-found authority to charge an annual fee of $5,000 per dispensary. The state will receive an economic windfall as well, taxing 3 percent of sales.

And there’s the “wink-wink” level. For most users, marijuana is nothing if not a social drug. People now in their 60s and 70s have been getting high together most of their lives. For many of them, marijuana is the prefered way to medicate but far from the only or in some cases the best option.

We recall the words of a Circuit Court judge who opined that the drug industry could create marijuana pills with the active ingredient THC, the part that gets people high, if the drug’s sole use was pain relief.

But that would eliminate the social part of smoking dope.

The changes in state law were needed to clear up abiguities in an amendment to the State Constitution passed by voters that allows marijuana use for medical purposes. One effect will be to create “pot towns” where local officials welcome medical marijuana growers and retailers. Those places will be considered hip by some and spurned by others.

Those communities that exclude marijuana from their commerce will be considered prudish by some, and principled by others.

We’ll watch with interest and report as Leelanau communities consider requests from budding entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry. One downstate legislator opposed to the new law remarked that it “puts that cottage industry on steroids.”

Township boards and village councils throughout Leelanau will soon be asked to — wink-wink — participate.

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