Eaton looking to ban retail mariuana sales


EATON — During a Monday, June 17, meeting Eaton City Council held the first reading of an ordinance which will ban the cultivation, processing and retail dispensing of marijuana in all zoning districts in the city.

“Going back to 2017, council discussed medical marijuana. At that time council asked for legislation to prohibit the cultivation, processing and retail of medical marijuana. Since that time, the state has approved the recreational use of marijuana. So council was asked for a moratorium. That moratorium will end in September, or end of August,” City Manager Brad Collins introduced the legislation. “This ordinance amends our old ordinance to include that adult use cannabis. So, putting the medical and recreational environment into the one ordinance.”

“We are allowed to prohibit it by the constitutional amendment that was passed, so it’ll just put it all together under one umbrella, medical and recreational uses the same, not allowed in any zoning district in our city — dispensing or growing,” City Law Director Ryan Brunk explained.

“You’re still allowed to grow for your personal use, and you’re still allowed to use, this does not change that,” Brunk added.

Currently, according to Brunk, the number of plants allowed per residence is six per resident, or a maximum of 12.

Councilman Chris Carr questioned the desire to ban the dispensing city-wide.

“I took, because I was curious to try to get some numbers and I realized this isn’t representative of a full demographic of Eaton citizens — but I did put a poll up on my council page on Facebook and was surprised to find, asking this exact question about whether we should allow or ban cannabis sales in the city, 47 responded that we should allow and two responded that we should ban. Now granted, this is Facebook users. So this isn’t like I had a fully representative demographic. But that was a pretty wild leaning whole result,” Carr said.

“I guess the point I’m getting at is, if it’s not as lopsided towards the desire to ban as we think it is, if we’re maybe misinterpreting the negative opinions. Maybe we shouldn’t be pushing this right now. Maybe we should be trying to garner what that actual public opinion is. I would kind of argue that the number of people that think that marijuana should be legal is not the same number of people who think that we shouldn’t have a storefront now,” he noted.

“I think it is a different dynamic with the storefront,” Councilman Brad Moore said. “Because you can poll everybody in the city. And they could say yes, as long as it’s not in my backyard. That’s where you get into the issue of, okay, now you allow them to have it and now everybody’s for it. And then you got 30 mad people because ‘Oh, that’s on the corner by my house and is it going to affect resale value, is going to affect the foot traffic,’ well, yeah. So that’s where not only the possession is one thing, consuming it is another. But if you’ve got a storefront, now you’re affecting people in that area. So that’s the way I look at it — you’re never going to get a true representation of it, you know, until you put up that storefront and now you’ve increased the walking traffic in front of my house 10-fold and I got this vape shop selling marijuana.”

Carr read some of the comments he received, ranging from “we voted to legalize it, it should be legal,” to “as long as the storefront is regulated and held to federal, state and local regulations. There should be no issue with storefront. Imagine the revenue the city could gain from allowing the sale of cannabis,” and “considering that there are already numerous vape CBD vendors in Eaton I feel so long as they maintain their current rules of age restricted entrance to the store, ID requirements, verification and due diligence there should be no problem with it. Tax revenue alone would help with many city projects that would benefit everyone.”

“And then I have somewhat of a personal interest in the matter, because my sister has gone through two brain surgeries recently,” Carr added. “And she is using medical marijuana to help with her seizures. And I just think it’s closing the door here to folks that genuinely need this. There’s still going to be using, they’re going to be getting what they need elsewhere. Why not open the doors here and bring in that tax revenue for the city?”

“My network of friends and social media will have different opinions on the same question,” Mayor Matt Venable said. All I can do is go with the City of Eaton residents — they voted against the use of marijuana. I’m sure a majority of them are also against a storefront. There might be a lot of people that agree with recreational marijuana that don’t want to see a storefront.”

Council voted 4-1 (Venable, Moore, Vice-Mayor David Kirsch, James Ball, yes; Carr, no) for the first reading of the ordinance. A second reading and approval could come at council’s next regular meeting, Monday, July 15, at 6 p.m. at the City Building, 328 N. Maple Street.

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on X @emowenjr.

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