SOUTH HAVEN – City voters made it clear on Tuesday that they don't want recreational marijuana businesses to set up shop in town.
Voters approved a referendum to create an ordinance to ban commercial cannabis enterprises, by a margin of 645-537. More than 1,100 of the city's 3,500 registered voters cast ballots.
The referendum came about in August when the group Concerned Citizens of South Haven formed and gathered enough signatures to put the issue on Tuesday's ballot.
South Haven now joins a growing number of communities in Michigan to vote against recreational marijuana businesses.
The Concerned Citizens group has attended city council meetings consistently over the past several months to voice opposition to recreational marijuana businesses.
A day before Tuesday's election they were at the city council meeting to voice concerns.
“Statistics show drug abuse on the uprise with young kids leading the way,” said Joe Wilkins, a South Haven resident and pastor. “How many more precious lives do we have to lose to a prison or gave? I ask the council and residents, before you consider voting, please remember that parent who is forced to look at an old picture just to get a glimpse of a child they once knew.”
Proponents of recreational marijuana businesses have said that such enterprises would provide more jobs to local residents, but opponents say the price may be too high, in terms of increased drug abuse.
“Young people are our future,” said Ron DeMaso. “I believe there are better paths in creating economic vitality in this community.”
The referendum vote occurred as city council members were considering whether to allow medical and recreational marijuana businesses to locate in town, and what sections of town they could reside.
Currently, the city council is determining if it wants to allow medical marijuana facilities to locate east of Blue Star Highway, an area of the city where there are few residential homes. But a decision has not yet been made.