GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A resident-led group hoping to bring licensed and properly regulated medicinal marijuana facilities to Grand Rapids is attempting to push the conversation forward with a November 2018 ballot proposal.
The “Smart & Safe GR” campaign favors a proposal that would advocate for Grand Rapids to opt in to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act.
To get the proposal on the ballot, the group hopes to collect 10,000 signatures from city residents. They are in the process of finalizing petition language and seeking approval from the city clerk’s office before circulating the petitions.
“Voters have said they want it,” said Tami Vandenberg, a local business owner and activist who supports the campaign. “Now our leaders need to take action.”
In 2016, state legislators passed a law that gave local governments of all sizes the option to opt in to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act. The law allows municipalities to determine which businesses can take part in the medical marijuana industry.
Grand Rapids decriminalized marijuana by public vote in 2012. The city’s lack of dispensaries creates challenges for people with low income or disabilities, who are unable to conveniently travel to secure cannabis for medical treatment, according to MILegalize board member Michael Tuffelmire.
Tuffelmire said the “Smart & Safe GR” campaign promotes a highly regulated industry that improves safety and access for users while also benefiting the local economy.
“I’m not talking about lawlessness,” he said. “But we need access here for patients.”
Vandenberg agreed. She said Grand Rapids is missing out on a tremendous economic opportunity, and added that city initiatives t support small