Columbia Township held a public hearing to receive comment on the future of cannabis business activity in the Township.  The Township’s current ordinance prohibits it.  This ordinance was passed soon after the statewide ballot initiative made it legal.

Most speakers at the meeting were proponents of growing and/or selling.  Nearly all had been in the business, are currently in the business, see that business in their future, or had some other connection.  The Township received only two emails that objected to opening the door to cannabis activity.

This video provides excerpts from each person who spoke before the board.  Most proponents pointed to what they believed to be medical benefits.  Left largely unspoken were recreational or other uses.  The video begins with a comment from Supervisor Barry Marsh.  In order, here are those who addressed the board:  Madalyn and Curtis Townsley, Collin Flynn and Jason Schel, Colleen Charles, Mary Jo Cox, Casey Ponagai, Stephanie Fields, Jay Ponagai, Eddie Barski, Andy Slaby.

Andy Slaby’s comment refers to one cannabis operation operating within the Township that was permitted by the village of Brooklyn.

Not included in the video is a comment from the Township’s legal advisor, Eric White. He said revenue opportunities were limited to possible increases in property values.  Only retail sales would contribute to tax revenue.

Four of the seven Township trustees attended the meeting.  After hearing the speakers, Barry Marsh asked each of the present trustees to react to what they heard.

As Barry Marsh points out, there was almost no comment from citizens who might be opposed.

How does a possible ballot initiative figure into this?  If the board takes no action, a ballot initiative might.  Depending on the ballot language, the result could expand cannabis operations more than some residents may like.  Some believe that if the Township designates locations and scope of cannabis activity, the regulations could avoid backlash from residents.



I just moved from Leoni Twp to Clark Lake. Well in the process over the last few months.

I left Leoni because of the smell from the marijuana. The places that grow really stink up the air. And they only get a tiny fine vs having to fix their air filtration systems. Nobody enforces anything. I can’t believe that nobody is talking about that.

I also was on the school board. Columbia schools should contact Michigan Center and East Jackson schools. The uptick in marijuana use and stuff coming to school resulted in the need for a full time police officer, which the district got stuck paying for half. Also kids of all ages have got in trouble for bringing marijuana to school, even elementary kids.

While I am a proponent of the medical benefits, everyone certainly leaves out the main issues that the grow centers make the community smell and cause increased issues in elementary, middle and high schools. I want to enjoy the lake and not have to smell marijuana in the air. I want to be able to run outside and not smell it from a processing place.

In Leoni Twp you can be at a high school track meet or football game and smell the marijuana from the grow centers near. You can smell it while taking your kid to school on roads near the schools. It’s sad.

They promised all this increased tax revenue. All we got in Leoni was a layer put over our bad roads this year. It might last a couple years. The increases in revenue basically cover increased police and a marijuana officer. Except the school pays half.

Eric White was in Leoni Twp saying all of the same years ago. The entire thing blew up in Leoni and it caused a huge rift in the community. Tons of negative news coverage also.

I think maybe more coverage and more town halls for the community would be a good idea. I can’t see people who live on the lakes wanting the air to smell and be happy about it. Or the schools not caring about the learning disruptions that will increase as a result.