COLOMA — Hagar Township voters will be asked to decide on a recreational marijuana ordinance in November.
After a lawsuit, Berrien County Trial Court Judge Donna Howard ordered Hagar Township to certify a petition for a marijuana ballot initiative. Township officials previously considered the language too vague, said Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio.
At the Sept. 12 township board meeting, DiMaggio said the board passed a motion against the ordinance proposed by the ballot initiative. If passed, he said the township would be unable to regulate the number of recreational facilities.
“There is no limit on the number of Provisioning Centers, growers (Class A, B, & C), Processors, Safety Compliance Facilities, Secure Transporters, Microbusinesses, or Consumption Establishments,” the proposed ordinance stated.
DiMaggio said this ordinance was out of step with how other communities are regulating marijuana sales.
“That’s like the wild, Wild West,” he said. “I mean, I think every community I’ve seen, they’ve basically limited it to certain numbers.”
The board opted out of recreational marijuana sales in October 2019. At that time, their resolution called for the planning commission to develop an ordinance for recreational sales. The planning commission is still working on drafting an ordinance, DiMaggio said.
According to the lawsuit, the Hagar Action Committee – a group set up for the purposes of passing a recreational marijuana ordinance – submitted petitions with 260 valid signatures to the township clerk in July 2021.
They needed 74 signatures to force an election. According to the suit, the clerk emailed DiMaggio, stating the petition was rejected because its language was unclear.
“We just felt it was too vague, too unlimited,” the supervisor said Wednesday. “And so, we just didn’t feel we could put it on the ballot.”
HAC, represented by Cannabis Counsel, a Detroit law firm specializing in marijuana law, filed a lawsuit against the township that August. The Herald-Palladium was unable to contact the Hagar Action Committee on Wednesday.
On Sept. 16, 2021, Howard ordered the township clerk to certify the petitions. Because the ballots had to be proofed by Sept. 5, 2021, there was no special election that year.
In addition to not limiting the number of recreational facilities, DiMaggio expressed concerns about the strong smell of marijuana growing operations.