MICHAEL HERBERT: ‘Opting out’ of provisions of recreational marijuana act sends negative message

TO THE EDITOR:

The following was presented to Manistee City Council before they voted to “opt out” of provisions of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act.

First, as city councilman Mick Szymanski has pointed out on several occasions, he believes that “opting out” sends a negative message to possible investors stating that “opting out” sends the message that we are not interested in this development or the potential development. This message could negatively impact the potentially considerable tax revenue the city receives.

Secondly, it sends a negative message to the majority of citizens (constituents) who voted to enact this law, in that it could and is being perceived as working against facilitating the law and the will of the people.

When councilwoman Erin Pontiac recently asked about negative impacts of not “opting out,” the city manager’s response was something to the effect of if someone requested a permit the city wouldn’t be ready and that wouldn’t be good. That’s not specific. That’s vague. Moreover, we can’t eliminate all ifs. We can’t eliminate the possibility of negative consequences. It’s just not possible in life.

In answer to my questions as to whether they could name a SPIN (specific, imminent, negative consequences), it would seem they were unable to — curious. Shouldn’t they have identified examples of SPIN before raising the cry of “the sky will fall, the sky will fall,” thereby insinuating into the minds of council this scary, formless, shifting black specter out of your nightmares. The sky is not going to fall if you choose not to “opt out”. They sky will not fall.

Don’t allow yourselves to be guided by fear. It seems fear is being used to convince council to “opt out.” I can understand that. Fear works. Fear is a powerful motivator, a powerful tool, as attested to by current events. They fear legal exposure in that if someone were to request a permit and be denied, after already having made an investment, they might sue.

I say again, any business person should know enough to do their due diligence and it would be simple enough to  post on the city’s website, or by other suitable means, that permits are not guaranteed immediately or in the future. But, we needn’t be motivated by fear alone. We needn’t fall prey to fear, fear of amorphous, nonspecific possibilities.

If council wishes to facilitate implementation of the medical and recreational marijuana laws, you needn’t “opt out,” the sky will not fall. Simply set a deadline for city staff to have the provisions ready.

In conclusion, without SPIN of “opting out”, without being ruled by fear, while considering the negative impacts of “opting out”, while considering the negative optics and message of “opting out,” “opting out” is unjustifiable.

If you’re concerned with the direction City Council took on this matter, call them. Call them all.

Michael C. Herbert

Manistee

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