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Do Hancock Residents Want Recreational Marijuana Businesses? Public Hearing Tonight

The city of Hancock is interested in what its residents have to say about whether or not the city should opt out of Michigan’s recreational marijuana market.

Shortly after the majority of Michigan voters overturned the state’s prohibition law, the Hancock City Council passed a 61 day order that allowed council members to research statistics and data before making any decisions on the matter.

Hancock Mayor John Haeussler said, “Certain council members, including myself, felt that the best course of action would be to take a short time out to see what’s going to happen, what the state regulations are going to be.”

Those 61 days are up and the city wants to consider what residents think about it, so the public is invited to the council chambers Wednesday evening, where their voices will be heard.

“It’s really about licensing businesses within the municipality. They just happen to be marijuana businesses as opposed to peanut butter business or something else,” said Haeussler.

As the law states currently, the state has until the end of the year to write regulatory laws regarding sales. Possession is legal, but sales are not, so even if the city were to allow marijuana businesses to operate, they cannot do so until the state’s new laws are implemented.  “If you move ahead of the state, and some will, you’re creating potential problems from both ends,” said Haeussler.

At least two downstate retailers are testing loopholes in the status quo. And that’s something that Hancock would like to prevent.  “Is it worth opening the city to that possibility to be one of the leaders in this new field of recreational marijuana?” Haeussler said.

Selling recreational weed may be a violation of law, but giving it away to someone age 21 or older is not, so two Ann Arbor retailers have done just that. One chocolate maker began advertising last month with a slogan that reads” Buy some chocolate, and get some weed.” That city has also seen the recent opening of an art dealer that is running a similar promotion. When customers buy a piece of cannabis artwork, they get a bonus package. (It’s marijuana.) Both retailers state that the promotions have been successful.

If Hancock does not opt out, once the state laws are in place, the city would lose the right to turn away any marijuana related businesses.  It’s just not clear what municipalities’ rights are in this situation,” said Haeussler.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:00 pm Wednesday, January 16th.

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