by Tom Tolen /

After nearly five hours of public comment, the Brighton City Council Wednesday night voted overwhelmingly to continue to “opt-out” of Michigan’s recreational marijuana law, thus not allowing marijuana establishments of any type in the city.

Mayor Kris Tobbe told WHMI that the meeting went very well, with upwards of 200 attentive, and mostly respectful, people attending — and many voicing strong opinions one way or the other.

The vote to continue to not allow marijuana establishments in the city ultimately passed 6-1, with Councilmember Jon Emaus voting no. Among other things, Emaus wanted council to agree to consider — even if at a future date — the possibility of allowing commercial and industrial marijuana-related facilities. However he failed to garner any support for his proposal.

The Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act allows for the commercial growing, processing, transporting and distributing of medical marijuana, a license that allows the person or company to be a grower (which allows the growing of up to 1,500 plants in an area zoned industrial or agriculture), along with becoming a processor, secure transporter, provisioning center or safety compliance facility.

The comments by the public took up the majority of time at the meeting, with those opposed to allowing a marijuana establishment in the city outnumbering those in favor by over a 2-1 margin.

While some of those in favor of a marijuana dispensary had a vested interest in the success of such facilities, others came to council with stories of how marijuana, or cannabis as it is legally known, proved to be a godsend.

One woman, who was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer and given six months to live, said that medical marijuana literally saved her life.

While marijuana’s alleged life-saving properties were touted by some in the audience, others regarded allowing a dispensary in Brighton as a mere convenience. At least one user said he was tired of going to Walled Lake or Ann Arbor merely to buy marijuana.

Others said that passing local ordinances to allow marijuana establishments was occurring only in communities whose downtowns are having economic difficulties, such as Walled Lake and Whitmore Lake, or college towns such as Ann Arbor. It was stated that Brighton needs no such facility because it has a healthy, robust downtown.

Several present or former Brighton High School students spoke at the hearing. While they stated that marijuana is already in the schools, they said that putting a dispensary in town — and just blocks from the high school — would make it easier for students to get ahold of the drug and would serve to increase its usage by kids who are underage.

Mayor Tobbe says that while the controversy over a potential marijuana dispensary in the city of Brighton is a dead issue for now, there is always the possibility of council reconsidering its opt-out stance in the future.

The next regular meeting of the City Council will be on Thursday, May 19th.