By Tom Tolen & Jon King /

The Brighton Board of Education Monday night unanimously approved a resolution asking that the local governing bodies prohibit a marijuana dispensing facility within their jurisdictions. That includes the city of Brighton and the surrounding municipalities of Genoa Twp., Green Oak Twp., Hamburg Twp. and Brighton Twp. The vote to formally adopt the measure was 6-0, with Board Vice President Alicia Reid absent.

The resolution asks that the elected officials of the local governments involved, all of which are partially or entirely within the Brighton Area Schools' boundaries, to “help protect our students from the negative consequences of marijuana by prohibiting marijuana businesses in their jurisdictions.” Citing a court case, the resolution states that allowing marijuana dispensaries in a community, “results in increased youth access and sends youth a message that marijuana is a safe drug.”

The resolution also cites data indicating marijuana potency “has increased significantly over (the) past decades,” that its use “negatively affects the developing teen brain, diminishing the ability to learn…and is strongly associated with academic underperformance.” The resolution states further that marijuana use is addictive, leads to “markedly increased drug violations at school (and can) worsen depression, while leading to “serious mental health issues.”

The Brighton City Council held a retreat on Oct. 2nd to discuss the ramifications of allowing a marijuana dispensary, and virtually all who spoke objected to permitting such a business to locate in Brighton, particularly in the downtown area. The thorny issue first came up several months ago when Jerry Millen of Hartland Twp. purchased the former Rolison PRO Hardware at 111 West Main St. and said he would like to convert it into a marijuana dispensary.

While he has not yet approached the city with a formal proposal, Millen did provide a statement to WHMI about the resolution. In it, he said that with "all due respect to the Brighton school board" he had to disagree with some of the information they are disseminating. "The cases they put forward regarding the use of medical marijuana have an unfair bias against its uses," stated Millen. "Being a parent 1st and foremost, my top priority is to help keep cannabis out of reach of children, and educate them on its potential harms to their developing brains." He then offered to personally give a tour of his store in downtown Walled Lake to anyone "who would like to be educated on cannabis and its benefits, and to see for themselves exactly what it is we do."

Millen continued, by stating, "Education is key, and those making these decisions really need a better understanding about cannabis and the state licensed facilities that sell it. This resolution was passed without proper research being done. Just searching the internet is not the answer. If you come to our store, the Greenhouse of Walled Lake, you will see hundreds of cancer patients, seniors and parents of children suffering from some type of disorder who find relief using cannabis. Many of these patients have been given recommendations from their doctors to try cannabis and have discontinued their use of dangerous and addictive opioids."

Millen also noted that "the Brighton community voted YES by 56% for the sale of marijuana in Michigan. I would like to invite the Brighton school board to reach out to me and see for themselves exactly what it is that we do. Without education, and a full understanding of what a cannabis business looks like, a true comprehensive decision cannot be made."

At an Oct. 18th meeting of the City Planning Commission, commissioners looked at potential sites within the city limits where recreational marijuana facilities might be located. Planning Commissioners had multiple maps at the meeting with school areas highlighted. They expressed a keen desire to keep such facilities out of the downtown business district as well as near churches, parks, and daycare centers.

At the retreat, the Planning Commission was directed to get the information it collects back to the council within 60 days with a recommendation and to establish guidelines for a possible ordinance. Council also directed city attorneys to explore the creation of a licensing and application process for such a business. The only state requirements are that such facilities may not be located in areas zoned exclusively residential or within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school unless the municipality adopts an ordinance reducing the distance.

The resolution adopted by the Brighton Board of Education is posted below.