MANTON — In the end, strong reactions from residents and the dollar-and-cents reality of the situation compelled Manton Mayor Garry Brown to come out against allowing marijuana businesses in the city.
The majority of commissioners came to the same conclusion.
Brown and some of the commissioners had previously entertained the idea of allowing certain types of marijuana-related establishments and planned to vote on the issue Tuesday.
In a previous interview with the Cadillac News, Brown said the city has a few vacant structures that could be viable as marijuana growing or processing centers. He also said there are buildings in town that could be used for retail.
Three motions were up for discussion Tuesday. They included one that would repeal an existing ordinance that prohibits medical marijuana provisioning centers or dispensaries; one that would approve an ordinance to allow certain medical marijuana facilities; and the third to approve an ordinance to allow certain recreational marijuana facilities.
A number of licenses were considered by the commissioners, including growing centers, processing centers, transporters, safety compliance facilities, and retailers, which include medical marijuana dispensaries.
Around 80 people showed up Tuesday for the public hearing on the proposed ordinances and the majority were against any kind of marijuana establishment.
Brown said many of those who were against marijuana businesses in Manton expressed concern about the influence they would have on the community and children, in particular.
“This was not something people wanted to see,‘ Brown said. “We’re a small, quaint little town and people love to live here. They like the way the city is developing and we have a culture here we like. They thought (marijuana businesses) would be a negative influence.‘
Brown said he was convinced to change his mind about the benefit of allowing marijuana facilities based on the community’s reaction and after he did some research into how the city could be affected on a financial level.
He said the cost of enforcing the laws that apply to medical and recreational marijuana establishments could easily become unmanageable for a town of Manton’s size.
For instance, Brown said the city would have to pay an inspector to regularly ensure the facilities are operating properly. They also might have to hire another police officer, as some of the businesses could be the targets of criminals and thieves, especially if they are transporting large sums of money or products.
“It would be a wash, at best,‘ Brown said. “It would probably cost more than we would be getting in licenses and fees.‘
Commissioners Troy Jones and Rebecca Middleton voted in favor of the motion to repeal the existing medical marijuana prohibition. The rest of the commissioners — Sam Cronkhite, Mark Loving, Rick Rayment and Sue Fullerton — voted against it.
Middleton also voted in favor of the ordinance that would allow certain medical marijuana facilities. Jones abstained from this vote and the rest of the commission voted against it.
All the commissioners voted against the ordinance allowing certain kinds of recreational facilities.
Jones told the Cadillac News that “majority rules‘ and added he would rather not discuss why he voted the way he did.
Middleton said she would have liked to see some type of medical marijuana facility in town to help those who are card-holders.
She said it also would have been beneficial for the city to get involved now while the industry is still in its infancy.
“I was sad to see that,‘ Middleton said. “But maybe it’s not the right time for Manton.‘