By Jessica Mathews /

After some legal wrangling, a proposal to allow marijuana establishments in the Village of Pinckney has made its way onto the November General Election ballot.

The language reads that if adopted, the proposal would “provide for the number of Marihuana Establishments within the Village, including regulatory and application provisions incidental to a system of safe and legal access to marijuana within the municipality”.

The petition was filed by Jobs For Pinckney, a grassroots group headed up by political organizer Sam Pernick of Oakland County. He was one of the organizers involved in the statewide Proposal 1 campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in 2018. Pernick says under Michigan Marijuana laws, citizens are allowed to initiate ordinances to put proposals on the ballot in communities that have “opted-out” of allowing such businesses.

A minimum of 53 signatures were required to get the proposal on the ballot and more than the required amount were submitted on the filing deadline of July 28th. There was confusion about which jurisdiction to file petitions, which led to lawsuits. Petition signatures were first submitted to the Village but Putnam Township handles elections for the Village. The signatures were then presented to the township and rejected. Organizers ended up filing suit against the village, township and Livingston County clerks. The Michigan Court of Appeals ultimately ruled in favor of the group and issued an order September 18th directing the local court to enforce the order and take the steps necessary to ensure the question was placed on the ballot.

Village President Linda Lavey told WHMI the Village and Council are not opposed to the idea of having residents try to open up marijuana-related businesses but rather the idea of outsiders trying to force it on them. She said if people want to entertain having a marijuana business this year, this is not the way to do it. Lavey said the ordinance is 17 pages long and quite demanding as interpreted, and the language is very confusing and hard to read. As interpreted, she says it appears to allow or require ten businesses and the Village is only 1.3-square-miles and doesn’t know if that’s the direction they want. Lavey said they’re not comfortable with the ordinance, especially coming from unknown outside entities, and the whole thing has been a big hassle. She says the Village has been an opt-out community but is also open minded and wishes the proposal would have been put forward by someone from Pinckney who wanted a marijuana business. Lavey says they’ll wait to see what voters decide and then consult with their attorney.

Meanwhile, Pernick clarified the ordinance would allow for two dispensaries and one micro-business if passed, which he feels it’s a modest proposal – adding close to 60% of voters in Pinckney voted yes on Proposal 1 to legalize marijuana. He told WHMI the whole process to get the proposal on the ballot and give people a choice “very concerning”. Pernick added he felt there was a concerted effort to stop the measure from getting on the ballot as they had to sue the village, township and county - and ultimately there were two Court of Appeals orders for the proposal to be placed on the November ballot.

Village Trustee Rebecca Foster said the legal back and forth could easily have been avoided if the organizers had done their homework. “I mean, all the guy had to do was come to a Council meeting a few months ago. Probably would have been done by now, with an ordinance that actually made sense for the village.” She also pointed WHMI to a section of the proposal that does indeed appear to authorize 10 various marijuana establishments.

Since ballots had already been printed for Putnam Township precinct 3, new ballots must now be printed to include the proposal. Local election officials estimated that cost to be between $1,000 and $2,500, which will be paid for by taxpayers.