While most Livingston County’s governing bodies have opted out of adopting a recreational marijuana ordinance, Howell Township officials are taking their time to consider the voice of their residents.

Roughly 40 people showed up for public hearing that was held Tuesday night in front of the Howell Township Planning Commission. The Planning Commission had been tasked by the Board of Trustees to make a recommendation on the allowance of recreational marijuana facilities. Chairman Andrew Sloan discussed the importance of hearing from the public and the need to put individual opinions aside.

Commissioners listened the voices of some residents, but it was largely out-of-township parties that stood up to share their opinion on allowing recreational marijuana facilities in the area. Nearly all of the roughly 15 who spoke urged the Planning Commission to allow facilities, seeing it as business and community opportunity. Many worked for laboratories or other operations and argued that if done correctly, could bring a safe product to the area that will help residents along with bringing added tax revenue to the township. Commissioner Pete Manwiller countered that the state would receive the lion’s share of the taxes and that the trickle down to local municipalities would be miniscule. A few spoke on the desire for closer provisioning centers for medical purposes, which while off-topic, sparked debate among some Commissioners about taking a fresh look at that need. Tom Knight, a former Howell Township Planning Commissioner was the lone person to speak against during the hearing.

The township has until the state has regulations in place to opt out, should they want to. When those rules will be in place is still unclear, but a December date looms large as that’s when licenses will begin to be given out. With local residents voting in favor of decriminalization last November, many on the Commission felt the need to honor their voice and more deeply explore what a recreational marijuana ordinance could look like. After a motion to opt out in the interest of more time for research failed, a motion to table the topic for the same reason passed. (MK)