Lake Township Residents Seek Clarity on New Marijuana Ordinance

People in a Roscommon County township are asking for transparency from board members after controversy involving marijuana regulations.

Two residents claim they haven’t had a say in the new ordinance that allows for commercial medical marijuana facilities and recreational marijuana establishments.

In 2018, Michigan voters approved Proposal 18-1, making recreational marijuana legal. It is up to communities to decide if they will allow or prohibit licensed establishments. But municipalities that intend to allow recreational marijuana businesses do not need to take action or public vote. Instead, they pass ordinances authorizing the licensing and regulation.

In Lake Township, the Marijuana Licensing Ordinance went into effect thirty days after adoption was published. The zoning ordinance goes into effect seven days after publication of adoption, unless referendum is brought forth.

“It doesn’t seem right that three people out of a five member board can make a decision how our Township runs,” says Rozann Bernard. Bernard is responsible for circulating a petition to prohibit all marijuana establishments now and in the future of Lake Township.

Bernard and friend, Sharon Mika, are residents. They published a letter of intent to petition against Ordinance 56A and 55A. Ordinance 56A refers to Lake Township Marijuana Licensing Ordinance and 55A, Lake Township’s Zoning Ordinance. According to Michigan Law, a voter in the jurisdiction can file intent to petition within the seven day window. Then they have less than thirty days to get the required number of signatures from other voters while also completing the requirements of Michigan Election Law.

Their petitions were both denied because they didn’t meet requirements.

Bernard and Mika claim they were not told what exactly they did wrong, rather they received a letter citing the sections of Michigan Election Law that they did not comply with. No direction as to how to correct their mistakes was given. Instead the township clerk and township attorney said that Bernard and Mika should consult a lawyer about why they didn’t meet requirements.

“We’re hoping if there’s some attorney out there that would like to help us, from of the other townships that are going through the same thing, we could certainly use some help,” says Mika.

During the Lake Township Regular Board Meeting, August 10th, Township Clerk Pam Surprenant made the following statement.

In the letter, it reads:

“The petitions were received within the appropriate timeframe. In a show of good faith the township attorney reviewed the petition language and responded directly to the petition circulator. On August 2nd, 2021, a letter by the township was sent to the circulators of the petition denying certification of the petitions. This was not a task I took lightly. Petition requirements include critical items beyond the qualified signatures. It is the responsibility of the circulator of the petition to uniformly comply with all requirements. This includes Michigan laws relating to a specific petition topic and the Michigan Election Law. “

During the Aug. 10th meeting, the board took action on the marijuana forms and applications listed on the agenda.

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