by Joe Tilton
Jan. 11, 2018
Quietly but firmly, Village President Edwin Winter said, “I’m not for it.”
His comment was in response to Dillon Smyth’s proposal that the Village Council consider an ordinance that would lead to a medical marihuana dispensary in Lakeview, and that he had plenty of financial resources to make it happen.
Smyth spoke in the opening moments of the Village Council meeting Monday evening. His proposal set off a series of comments among council members.
“I think it’s going to become a significant part of medical care,” Trustee Bob Huttinga said. “It may be a ways off.”
Smyth followed Huttinga’s comments with, “I’ve talked with Montcalm Township and they’re going to opt in.” He continued saying he has been talking with townships in the area and “no one’s jumping on board yet.”
Winter reminded Smyth that marihuana is still federally illegal, and after the meeting said he was aware that the Attorney General has announced a crackdown on marihuana by the Feds.
“I just want to bring it on home,” Smyth said. He referred to the “east side of the state,” where dispensaries are open now.
“I’m here. I will definitely open up here if you will allow,” Smyth told the council. More discussion followed, then Smyth continued, “Anyone that’s using a drug, whether it’s legal or illegal, is self medicating—using it for something to make themselves feel better about something in their life. It may not be for the back pain or cancer everybody else is using it for—mentally, they’re using it for a reason, whether it’s anxiety, depression, you name it. There’s a reason they continue to take a risk by using it illegally.”
Then Smyth went straight to the financial benefits of allowing a dispensary, saying that a “ton” of people are using it illegally, “but you guys don’t get a cut.”
“What do you mean, we don’t get a cut?” one councilman asked.
“The state’s offering you three-percent of the 28-percent they collect from us for the local municipality. We are also offering another five-percent which puts it at a third. We’re offering another five-percent for local charity, that we could work with you to make sure it goes to the right place.”
Then Steve Case said, “I think you should sit down with Shay [Village Manager] to discuss it further.”
We have learned, just before deadline that Montcalm Township is not going to vote on a resolution, either way, as was previously announced from the last board meeting. Montcalm Township is not in the “opt-in” position Smyth reported to the Lakeview Council.
President Winter said he had been following Facebook posts while he was away, that claimed high numbers of traffic citations written by the Police Department. He addressed Chief Dood directly and asked, “How many citations did we actually write?”
“We stopped 855 cars last year, with 871 verbal warnings. There were 374 civil infractions written for seatbelt, speeding, and there were 29 citations written for misdemeanors like DWI’s, inappropriate drivers licenses and stuff like that.” Chief Dood said he also heard about the Facebook postings, “but we definitely do not have any sort of quota.” He explained that they have switched to “civil infractions” to help keep fine money local. The net result of a fine diminishes when a ticket is challenged in court, where the village attorney has to get involved, which can mean “we can actually lose all we can potentially make, and that happens about one per year.”
Village Manager Shay Gallagher said, “We are projecting $5,000 from that [fines] in the new $180,000 budget [for the Police Department].
Restitution for other things, such as vandalism, is counted in the budget line item. “It’s not just traffic,” Chief Dood concluded.
The Consumers Energy Franchise Renewal will be considered during the February Council meeting. It was brought up to announce a public hearing before the meeting to give the public a voice on the issue.
The Capital Improvement Plan was discussed. For details, see the January 4th edition of the Lakeview Area News.
The budget for 2018 was discussed at length, and apparently not finalized. A follow-up article will feature the village budget and particular line items.
Under Public Works, it was reported that a six-inch-water-main had to be repaired at First and Washington Streets. Once discovered, the fix was being addressed within three hours.
All council members were present at the Monday evening meeting that lasted just over an hour.