County Board Won't Take Up Resolution Opposing Marijuana Legalization
June 19, 2018
A resolution opposing the personal use of marijuana did not make it on to Monday night’s agenda of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, in part due to legal concerns.
Commissioner Dave Domas has been working to get the resolution on both committee and board agendas, but efforts have failed. Last night, a 2/3 vote in support was needed. He says there is strong opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana, noting students previously attended a meeting to share personal experiences about how their lives have been negatively affected, asking the board to support the resolution. He called it a public safety nightmare as hospital entries and domestic violence increase while learning ability decreases. Domas says there isn’t a good thing about "recreational" marijuana, except that it feels good and because we are sometimes in a feel good culture, people think it’s the right thing to do but he has opposed this from the very start.
Commissioners Domas, Bob Bezotte, Doug Helzerman and William Green all supported the resolution and spoke about the dangers of legalizing marijuana for personal use and what they perceive to be huge problems in Colorado. However, the county’s legal counsel offered an initial opinion expressing concerns that approving such a resolution and taking an official stance on the issue might open up the door to legal problems and could put the county in jeopardy under the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. One county has approved a similar resolution in opposition, but it was approved in 2017 before the initiative was on the ballot.
Commissioner Dennis Dolan commented everyone will have the opportunity to vote on the issue in November and he did not want to jeopardize the county. Commissioners Carol Griffith, Kate Lawrence and Gary Childs echoed legal concerns and agreed voters will be able to decide the issue. Board Chair Don Parker Chairman commented the legalization of marijuana for personal use has dramatically affected Colorado in a fundamental way and legality does not negate the black market, stressing it is still illegal federally raising a host of other issues. Parker clarified he is against legalizing marijuana for personal use and will be opposing the measure in November. He opened up the floor and made sure every commissioner had as much time as they wanted to clarify their stance on the issue but stressed the board should not go into areas of legality. Parker said he can’t bring forth a resolution that runs afoul of the law and then vote on it in the affirmative. He stated the board can’t run afoul to the law no matter what anyone’s principles or how deeply felt, adding he doesn’t doubt the sincerity of anyone on the board.
During the call to the public portion of the meeting, Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy and Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt commented that they were not there to advise the board on way or the other but are opposed to legalizing the personal use of marijuana.
The ballot proposal, which limits open usage to residents ages 21 and over, would legalize the possession and sale of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use, while taxing its sale at 10% in addition to the state's 6% sales tax. The resolution presented by Domas is attached. (JM)