MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, MI - On August 15, the Meridian Township Board resolved to reject a new petition for a ballot measure concerning adult-use (more commonly known as recreational) marihuana establishments within the township.
According to a memo to the board from township attorney Matthew Kuschel, the petition asked that voters be allowed to decide whether to repeal the township’s prohibition of adult-use marihuana, and additionally if the township should allow at least five marihuana establishments within the area.
(While the August 2 primary election featured a proposal to ban such establishments from the township, it did not pass. An Okemos resident has requested a recount for the proposal, per the Lansing State Journal.)
According to township manager Frank Walsh, the petitioners submitted their signatures while the township clerk was still working with the primary election, asked that their question be on the November 8 ballot and received roughly 2,000 signatures.
Soon after the township clerk received the petition, the primary circulators requested that the petition be withdrawn.
Neither the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act or Michigan election law have a provision allowing petitioners the right to withdraw their work. Kuschel drew on previous case law and determined there is no precedent preventing such a right.
“There’s no statutory right [to withdrawal], so the petitioner does not now bind the hands of the township. The township is still free to act as it sees in the best interest of the citizenry,” said Kuschel. “At the same time from a practical view, if you have a petitioner seeking to withdraw the petition … that’s going to carry some weight, particularly if there are other concerns.”
Regardless of the legality of withdrawing the proposal, it was able to be rejected due to its multiple deficiencies under Michigan election laws concerning font size, content, and the placement of a warning for petition signers that signatures could be invalidated.
The question asked was also not in compliance with MRTMA. In his memo, Kuschel stated that the law says “Individuals may only “petition to initiate an ordinance to provide for the number of marihuana establishments allowed within a municipality or to completely prohibit marihuana establishments within a municipality...” The question encompassed “more than providing for the number of marihuana establishments” – left both prohibition and the number of establishments (additionally phrased as “at least five”) up to the voters – and was therefore invalid.
The board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution written by Kuschel rejecting the proposal.
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