Community members concerned of proposed cannabis ordinance in Monroe Township

MONROE, Mich. (WTVG) – Monroe Charter Township is currently developing an ordinance that would allow up to 25 marijuana businesses to open within the municipality.

But not if a group of community leaders has anything to say about it.

Members of a coalition made up of school superintendents, business leaders, local politicians, and law enforcement say they’re worried about their town becoming a hotspot for cannabis use, as well as other long-term consequences of what they’re saying would be an over-saturation of these businesses.

Last year, the township’s planning commission approved six cannabis businesses, with eight slated for meetings in the future.

As applications for businesses began adding up, the township revised the ordinance.

“We realize there’s going to be some that are going to come in but we’re just trying to make them come in a sensible, well-ordered way,” says coalition member and business owner David Swartout.

The 18 square miles of Monroe township currently has about 15,000 residents, but the coalition has raised concerns that many of the potential cannabis business owners do not live in the township.

“This is money coming in because they can’t go other places into our town and they don’t have to live with the consequences,” says Kurt L. Darrow, President, Chairman, and CEO of LA-Z-Boy. “If we have one or two, we won’t be the beacon of light, if we have 25 it’ll be very troublesome for our kids our community, our traffic.”

There are also concerns the first ordinance was adopted illegally.

Colation member Jerry Oley, a former Monroe County Commissioner and the current Executive Director of Operations at Monroe Public Schools, believes Monroe Township has not been transparent with citizens about the process and believes the initial ordinance was passed illegally.

“There’s a large number of these marijuana entities that have an interest of coming to this community because the township chose not to opt-out by regulatory requirements. Every other municipality in this county either opted in or opted out which obviously they all opted out except for Petersburg and Monroe Township chose to ignore it and disregard it,” says Oley. “That’s where I felt like it disenfranchised the community and the residents here because they didn’t want us to know about it.”

The town of Petersburg is currently home to one of the 14 statewide locations for Lume Cannabis Co.

Director of Retail Operations for the company, Michael Dowdell, says Lume is also in the process of opening another dispensary location in Monroe Township, which would be the second in the county.

Dowdell says the new location will be smaller than the one in Petersburg, and ideas in mind for curbside service during the pandemic.

He says the company is not concerned at all about over-saturation in Monroe.

“We don’t have any concerns about additional stores entering the market. We have other stores in several cities with multiple cannabis retailers,” texted Dowdell. “We do very well.”

When asks about adding even more locations in town, Dowdell says there are no current plans at this time.

“We are very excited to bring quality products at great prices to the Monroe community,” added Dowdell.

We reached out to Monroe Charter Township and Supervisor Alan Barron last week, who did not return our calls for comment.

Copyright 2021 WTVG. All rights reserved.

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