Township approves first reading of local marijuana ordinance

FLUSHING TWP.— Flushing Township is pursuing a local ordinance that will further define restrictions on recreational marijuana use within the township limits.

On Oct. 10, the Flushing Township Board of Trustees approved the first reading of an ordinance that will regulate where recreational marijuana can and can’t be used, how much marijuana can be grown and how plants should be stored in the township.

Back in January, the township board voted to opt out of a voter-approved state law that decriminalized recreational marijuana in Michigan. By opting out, the township was able to ban the retail sale of recreational marijuana and prohibit marijuana businesses from opening in its jurisdiction.

Despite these measures, Flushing Township Supervisor Fred Thorsby said that a local marijuana ordinance is needed to reinforce that residents can only use recreational marijuana in their homes, not in public places throughout the township.

“Suppose somebody came up here to the township office, on public property, and started smoking marijuana outside,” he said. “How would we stop them from doing that?”

Thorsby said that while state law prohibits the smoking or ingesting of marijuana in public, it does not specifically ban individuals from using pot at public places like government buildings or schools.

“It would be a lot simpler to enforce own ordinance…and (enable) our officers to arrest somebody for violating state law,” he said. “We won’t be doing anything outside of what the state law currently allows.”

Altogether, the ordinance states that marijuana cannot be possessed within buildings of the Charter Township of Flushing or Flushing Community Schools, or at any event or activity sponsored by the township or the school district. The ordinance will also allow school liaison officers to arrest people who violate the state’s recreational marijuana laws on school grounds.

Thorsby also said that each provision of the ordinance aligns with state regulations on recreational marijuana, such as:

Individuals 21 and older can possess no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow no more than 12 plants for personal use.

Marijuana plants can only be grown in a secured, enclosed space, where the plants are not visible from a public location.

Marijuana cannot be used while operating a motor vehicle.

Residents who violate the ordinance will be fined up to $500 on a first offense and up to $1,000 on a second offense. A third offense will be a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

A second reading of the ordinance will be held at the next Flushing Township Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 14.