Columbia Township is considering an ordinance that would allow cannabis growers, processors, retailers and microbusinesses to operate in the township.  Those activities are currently prohibited in Columbia Township.  The proposed ordinance would create a legal framework for them and regulate them.  Individual use of cannabis is legal throughout the state, and is not affected.

The Columbia Township Board is holding a special meeting to hear from the public at 7 pm today (Wed 2/28) regarding the proposed ordinance.  The Columbia Township Planning Commission has researched and studied the issue and forwarded their recommendations to the Township Board. That is what will be under discussion this evening.

The Township authored a letter made available to some residents on the topic.  In part, it says: “When it comes to Cannabis regulations, many property owners (that responded [to a letter mailed in 2023]) expressed significant concerns, objections and hesitation about the possibilities of amending ordinances to permit Cannabis retail operations, or processing/grow facilities.  Please remember that our current Ordinance absolutely prohibits it. … Therefore, we will be holding an open meeting on Wednesday, February 28, 2024 at 7 pm at the Columbia Charter Township hall.”    Click here to read the entire letter.

Cannabis was discussed previously at a public hearing on December 5, 2022.  This website reported on that meeting and produced a video of comments made.

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.

Not included in the video is a comment from the Township’s legal advisor, Eric White. He said revenue opportunities were limited in two ways.  Property owners involved in the activity might see an increase in the value of their land.  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 ensuing backlash from residents.