Marijuana businesses before Brighton City Council at special meeting


BRIGHTON — City officials are set to discuss whether to continue blocking marijuana businesses inside the city or to change the current ordinance. 

During the upcoming council meeting Wednesday, officials also could simply continue talking about the issue without making a decision.

A special meeting of the Brighton City Council, which is open to the public, will take place at 6:30 p.m. May 11 at the Brighton Community Center, 555 Brighton St., to discuss the potential for allowing marijuana businesses in the city.

Will Brighton stay opted out?

Marijuana businesses of any kind are not currently allowed in the city, which opted out under Michigan’s recreational marijuana law.

In October, Brighton City Council passed a resolution instructing the city’s planning commission to begin an ordinance review process and identify possible locations for marijuana businesses.

The council stipulated that marijuana businesses would not be allowed in or around the downtown business district, including Main Street.

At the time, officials discussed whether the city should get ahead of special interest groups that could petition to place the question on the ballot and force their hand. 

MORE: Two Brothers Coffee in Brighton has a new owner. Here’s what he’s planning

The planning commission reported back in December, but the council did not take action. The commission declined to create a draft ordinance, as city council had requested, and instead submitted items for consideration for how marijuana business could be regulated in the city. 

Opponents concerned about impacts

Some city officials and the Brighton school board have opposed allowing marijuana businesses.

City councilmember Susan Gardner shared her concerns in April about how marijuana use impacts young people during public comment at a meeting of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners. 

Gardner shared information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about how marijuana use can harm developing brains and lead to marijuana use disorder. 

“Please consider, coming out of this pandemic, do we need anything more to distract and hook our youth, going the wrong way?” she said.

Pot business supporters expected

Walled Lake marijuana business owner Jerry Millen recently sold the former Rolison PRO Hardware building in downtown Brighton to a new owner after city officials made it clear they were not interested in allowing marijuana stores on Main Street or in the downtown district.

Millen said he is still interested in eventually opening a store somewhere in the city, even if it’s not downtown. 

MORE: ‘The WellFlower’ co-owner gives a sneak peek of Whitmore Lake’s final marijuana shop

“We’re rallying the pro-marijuana people,” to attend the May 11 council meeting, he said. “I’m inviting people who this impacts directly, who have benefitted, especially when it comes to the medical side.”

He said he expects other cannabis business owners, politicians, medical marijuana patients and local business owners to attend and show support for a regulated, legal marijuana industry in the city. 

He said if the city does not take action, it’s likely special interest groups could begin a ballot initiative that would let voters decide.

“If they don’t, one of these big wigs will do a ballot initiative. Don’t be naïve, they are coming. They will be willing to spend $100,000 to get it on the ballot and take it out of the city’s control,” Millen said. “You need to get ahead of that and pass an ordinance, or someone is going to shove it down their throats.”

School board resolution against

In November, the Brighton Area Schools Board of Education passed a resolution expressing opposition to allowing commercial marijuana businesses in the city and other communities in the school district. 

“[T]he Board of Education for the Brighton Area Schools requests that the elected leaders of the City of Brighton, Brighton Township, Genoa Township, Green Oak Township and Hamburg Township help protect our students from the negative consequences of marijuana use by prohibiting marijuana businesses in their jurisdictions,” the board said in a non-binding resolution.

The resolution also claims permitting marijuana businesses, “results in increased youth access and sends youth a message that marijuana is a safe drug.”

Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at jtimar@livingstondaily.com



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