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Marquette residents should voice views on recreational marijuana

To opt in or opt out? That is the question. The Marquette City Commission is expected to meet at 5:15 tonight in chambers for a work session to discuss recreational marijuana.

The commission in February by a 4-2 vote passed an ordinance opting out of allowing commercial marijuana establishments within city limits.

Tonight, the commission plans to review a proposed ordinance for regulating commercial marijuana facilities in Marquette. City Manager Mike Angeli told The Mining Journal that commissioners will have the opportunity to discuss the regulation should the city decide to opt back in.

State voters in November approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, making Michigan the 10th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana use by anyone age 21 or older.

In Marquette, 62% of residents who voted in the election supported the proposal.

However, Marquette — and many other Michigan municipalities — have opted out of allowing commercial establishments while awaiting direction from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Area municipalities typically have opted out, taking a wait-and-see approach, although the Negaunee City Council in March failed to opt out of passing a proposed ordinance to ban recreational marijuana.

We understand municipalities’ decisions to opt out for now. It might be cumbersome to set up rules, with the state then possibly setting up different rules — and then it’s back to the drawing board.

Angeli said the proposed Marquette ordinance will address changes, with the work session also focusing on what has happened at the state level since the city opted out.

There’s a lot to consider, and recreational marijuana continues to be in the news. For instance, the state House Judiciary Committee recently approved bills that would require labels on marijuana indicating its health risks for pregnant mothers.

The legislation would require all cannabis be packaged with a label reading: “Warning: Use by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or by women planning to become pregnant, may result in fetal injury, preterm birth, low birth weight, or developmental problems for the child.”

Additionally, the legislation would require both adult-use and medical marijuana dispensaries to make available pamphlets that include safety information about cannabis use by minors.

On a local level, though, it should be recognized that regardless of one’s personal beliefs about recreational pot, it likely will be available in one form or another in the city of Marquette, and probably other nearby communities, sometime in the future.

If you have a strong opinion on the issue — or even just a passing interest — it might be a good idea to attend tonight’s work session to listen to an update on the status of recreational pot in Marquette. People also can give their opinions during two scheduled public comment periods.

City officials need to hear public input on such an important issue, and tonight is a good time for that to happen.