2017-07-27 / Views

Use “M’ word, and more, for marijuana factory

When it comes to zoning regulation, we’re interested in insuring that procedure is followed and residents have information to participate in the final outcome.

In Solon Township a highly controversial request to construct a medical marijuana processing plant was taken up by the Planning Commission as part of proposed changes to the Zoning Ordinance.

For some reason — a desire to avoid confrontation? — planners did not make a recommendation on what constitutes a major change in zoning. They voted to refer the proposed change to the Leelanau County Planning Commission without taking a stand.

From there the change could head back to the township Planning Commission or to the Solon Township Board for a vote. No one knows at this point, which could be a problem if the voices of residents opposed to the plant wear down and are no longer heard.

Clearly most people at a public hearing about the change were willing to vocalize their thoughts.

We’re also concerned as to how the changes are being portrayed. What’s being sought is more than a simple provision to allow “conditional uses” in zoning districts, including those zoned for agriculture.

That has become a talking point, that this proposed change represents some type of trendy movement for community planning.

In fact, the change was requested by a would-be businessman who wants to set up a marijuana factory in rural Solon Township. He wants to do much more than grow a row of weed behind a pole barn.

The marijuana industry is fast becoming more chemical in nature. Just smoking weed no longer produces enough “high.” Look up youtube videos about butane hash oil for a quick education.

That’s what’s on the table.

Thankfully, changes in state law give local jurisdictions control over whether they will allow such operations. The zoning change is the first step in the process.

We’ve heard that at the county Planning Commission level, steps may be taken to avoid having commission members say the “M” word.

That’s a shame. The word is marijuana. And the definition of marijuana is rapidly changing as the weed industry, now well financed, moves above ground.

Folks can argue the merits of “medical marijuana,” and opinions are varied. After passage of an amendment to the State Constitution, marijuana use as prescribed by a physician was legalized.

And provisions were created within the Constitution for growing medical marijuana on a smaller scale.

Legalizing medical marijuana was the first step in legalizing the drug. It’s growing obvious that, eventually, the recreational use of marijuana will be allowed.

Again, opinions are varied, with townships and villages at this point given authority to determine their own destinies.

The question today in Solon Township is whether a man will be given permission to build a marijuana processing plant in an agricultural district.

We suggest that discussions about the proposed zoning change use the “M” word often. And that residents educate themselves about the marijuana industry before making a decision for or against the change.

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