By Joe Tilton
In a 5-0 vote, Montcalm Township’s Planning Board voted to advance an ordinance proposal that violates Federal Law and is two-years premature by State Law. It appears law and reason are separated from anything marijuana; that Law means nothing. Since this seems to be the case, why would their proposed township ordinance stop illegal activity, including tax evasion?
The July 3rd meeting, the evening before a major holiday, was attended by a smaller than average crowd for a hearing on marijuana, and was not displayed on their marquee nor mentioned on their Planning Commission section of their website meeting-agenda posting. It was referenced under “News.” Too, the proposed marijuana ordinance, apparently written by the author of the state’s Bill (PA 281 of 2016), which did not pass, was at the meeting, along with the county’s most famous and vocal pot producer.
Previous attempts to push a pro-pot ordinance resulted in standing room only crowds, but this hearing, light on advertising, and on an evening before a major holiday, resulted in few available for opposition.
“I knew this was going to pass,” one attendee said just above a whisper, indicating belief the event was staged to approve up to three dispensaries in Montcalm Township with little opposition. Overholt operates AAA Hydroponics on the main street in Sheridan, and said he has purchased property in Montcalm. He lives in Sidney.
While the issue is under review by Congress, Federal Law, as it exists, makes marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin, which is more restricted than Schedule 2 drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. Schedule 1 drugs are those with high potential for abuse with no proven medical use. The nation’s Surgeon General has announced, “There is no such thing as medical marijuana.”
Even with Michigan’s vote to legalize “recreational” marijuana, it is still illegal. Michigan’s Township Association attorney Catherine Mullhaupt, previously told a meeting of the Montcalm Township Association, “There’s at least two years of hearings by the courts before the Initiative Petition is law.” If the person attending the Montcalm meeting is that close to the promoters, he would have known about pending court action. Nothing was said to advise the Board to, at least, wait until the Law is in place. Does this mean Montcalm Township’s Board will be violating State Law as well as Federal?
“Control” was a major issue as the plan was discussed. Should the ordinance pass, as described by members of the Board, the Fire Chief will be in charge of on-site regulation of every marijuana dispensary, grow facility and processing location, plus “carbon filters to eliminate the horrible smell.” The problem, as presented by one attendee, is arrival and control of the pot business by mafia from Cuba, Mexico and China. The warning appeared to be sloughed off by board members. However, in previous reports you have read how the Michigan State Police is already in conflict with these mafia groups, resisting them with a 40-man task force. Will an ordinance be an invitation to mafia in Montcalm County? What resources does one man, the Montcalm Fire Chief, have to regulate them?
A new drug derived from the marijuana plant called, “Epidiolex,” is available through prescription in the U.S. This drug is available through the established doctor/patient relationship and approved by the FDA. What’s the need for a dispensary selling locally-produced “weed?” The press release can be read at: http://ir.gwpharm.com/news-releases/news-release-details/epidiolexr-
Mike Callton, a former legislator, stood and stated he wrote the “Bill”, and told how 80-percent of marijuana produced in Montcalm County was not suitable for consumption. How does he know that? “There’s testing now,” he said. Remember, this proposed ordinance will be enforced by the Fire Chief, who did not seem to be at the meeting, and neither were medically-trained personnel. Users will be taking a drug approved and regulated by the township board instead of the FDA. Can you trust their expertise in regulating a Schedule 1 drug?
Overholt said, “There’s no law enforcement in the county.” The inference was; if we allow legal marijuana sales, there will be enough tax money to hire officers to patrol our roads. He also told how the ordinance would bring in $15-million in investments to the township. The question that must follow is; what if “patients” go to their doctor for a legal, regulated drug (Epidiolex), instead of a dispensary where home-grown pot products are sold? What happens to the $15-million investment?
John Kroneck stood before the group and described the results of marijuana on children, citing the number one reason for emergency room visits for children in Colorado is marijuana use. One member of the Board used a rumor that claims legal “recreational” marijuana reduces use by youth. A study released June 2019 shows the opposite to be true.
Christine Allison, who runs a business selling marijuana-related products, such as pipes, claimed to need marijuana for her cancer said, “Marijuana is not our problem here.” This reporter covers court, and has documented how 50 to 80-percent of criminal cases in this county involve drugs, with marijuana leading the list. Our Sheriff has agreed with the observation.
We learned how the number of deaths associated with marijuana is growing. At a national meeting in Miami, FL we attended in January, California’s death toll from pot since legalization had reached 593. We also heard how pathologist examinations with toxicology discoveries of THC in bodies coming to the morgue, were not recording their findings because they believed the lie; “it never killed anybody.”
Another issue never mentioned at the Board meeting was liability. Why wouldn’t a family sue the township if a death is attributed to a local board’s regulation of marijuana, even through a traffic death caused by weed purchased in the township? With the superior Law clearly not on the side of this ordinance, why wouldn’t there be a suit against the governing body approving a Schedule 1, home-grown, Fire-Chief regulated drug for sale in their jurisdiction? Where is their medical expertise? Do you know of a doctor prescribing from anecdotal evidence?
Montcalm Township’s Planning Commission has clearly thumbed their noses at the Law and documented catastrophic health risks for perceived financial gain. They want money, and with information clearly presented, appear willing to sacrifice brains of their youth for it.
Availability was discussed. With a stated 1,064 “medical” marijuana card holders in Montcalm County, a drive to Ionia or Belding is all it takes for a supply of locally-produced marijuana, and the black market is doing well. There was no mention of an advertised “delivery” from Crystal (Treehouse Delivery) on weedsta.com. The Crystal business advertises pot by the ounce plus concentrates. But now that Epidiolex is available, your designated physician can prescribe a truly regulated supply for a legitimate need.
Consider demand. Only 1.67-percent of Montcalm County residents hold “medical marijuana” cards. Will that percentage produce return, profit and taxes from a $15-million investment when you factor in mafia and black market involvement? The same percentage of Montcalm Township’s population calculates to less than 50 people “benefiting” from dispensaries. Could market expansion be a goal of this ordinance?
Now, the township Board will take up the issue. What will the Board be encouraging by adding the ordinance? Contribution to an unstable society is one effect, and encouraged release of responsibility, which is not possible but only delayed, and a smaller workforce with diminished capacity. So much for “being all you can be.”
Consider attending every meeting since the marijuana ordinance may not be shown as an agenda item on their website or marquee. The possibility of recall petitions against Board members was mentioned should the ordinance be adopted.
The motion to send the ordinance to the township Board was made by Robert Hemmes. The other “yes” votes were by Chairman Richard Karnatz, Jessica Shearer (Board Liaison), Jeff Dolphin (the most vocal advocate) and Erin Nerychel.
The full Board meets at the Township office near Turk Lake, Wednesday, July 10 at 7 p.m.