Tom Tolen /

Come November 8th — less than a month from now - Brighton voters will decide whether to allow marijuana dispensaries within the city limits.

Groups with a vested interest in allowing marijuana stores have been touting the advantages of having pot dispensaries in the city. The initiative is being promoted by the “Say Yes Brighton Committee”, which is headed by so-called “marijuana industry professionals” — that is, interests that have promoted and in some cases successfully carried a marijuana business ballot question to victory in other communities.

The “Say Yes to Brighton” committee is affiliated with "say yes” groups in other Michigan communities and successfully sued the city of Brighton - as it has in other locations — to force the issue on the ballot.

However, many Brighton area residents are vehemently opposed to the idea of pot shops in the city, and an organization has been formed to encourage people to vote no. That group is called “Protect Brighton Youth and Community” and was formed specifically with the goal of seeing the ballot proposal defeated.

If approved by the voters, the ordinance is designed to allow "a minimum of two adult use” retail marijuana establishments with delivery service, drive-thru, and exterior walkup windows. It would authorize a marijuana establishment license for an individual or group which holds a state license to operate in the city and who has obtained pre-qualification from the state within 30 days after the ballot wording. Such establishments would not be allowed within 800 feet of a pre-existing K-12 public or private school, park or playground of one acre or more in size.

The ballot issue, which is different from the proposed ordinance, would only prohibit such facilities within 800 feet of a school or park over one acre. Likewise, it would allow such retail businesses to offer delivery, drive-thru and exterior walk-up windows.

The Brighton Area Schools Board of Education last year unanimously passed a resolution opposing marijuana establishments in the city, stating, among other things, that "marijuana use negatively affects the developing teen strongly associated with academic underperformance..."(and) results in markedly increased drug violations at school."

One prominent individual in the community who is opposed to having retail marijuana businesses in the city is Mayor Kris Tobbe. And he says that the “Say yes” group is breaking the law in its zeal to get the issue passed.

Tobbe tells WHMI that the large sign that was in his Main St. front yard urging a “no” vote on the pot issue was recently stolen. In addition, Tobbe says, at least 40 other "vote no" yard signs at various locations in the city have been purloined — presumably by "say yes" proponents.

Tobbe says the information has been turned over to the city police, who are investigating for possible prosecution. “It’s unconscionable," Tobbe said. “Taking political signs is an infringement on free speech, and whoever steals signs of that nature should be prosecuted.” Under Michigan law, stealing a political sign valued at less than $200 is punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $500.

The city has rescheduled its meeting originally set for Nov. 3rd to the 10th — after the election has been held — so that council members will know how to proceed, based on whether the pot issue has passed or failed. If it passes on Nov. 8th, the city will be required to put the ordinance in place by Dec. 1st.