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Saugatuck city pot survey yields mixed results

Saugatuck city pot survey yields mixed results


By Scott Sullivan


Results of a Saugatuck city retail marijuana survey show full-time residents support allowing retail medical and recreational uses more than their part-time peers.

But a preponderance still have questions and concerns about allowing recently-legalized Michigan marijuana uses within city boundaries.

Among findings the planning commission will weigh at its Thursday, July 18, meeting were responses from 208 year-round residents, 112 part-time residents, 45 business owners, 43 property owners and 32 short-term rental owners.

Overall there were 392 responses to 960 surveys distributed, a 41.5-percent return.

Saugatuck last December opted out on all marijuana facilities pending further study of how the state regulates recreational uses. Council asked the commission to study options under the new act, hold at least one public hearing to seek citizen input, then prepare a report recommendation for action by Dec. 30 this year.

The survey, sent this spring with a May 10 deadline, introduced and framed questions thus:

“The State of Michigan has legalized the sale of medical and recreational marijuana by legislation and referendum. Cities may choose to permit, limit or prohibit retail sales of recreational and/or medical marijuana within their boundaries.

“However, the state has imposed limitations. A retail outlet, whether medical or recreational, cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school, and cannot be in a residential zone district.

“Consumption, that is by smoking, using edibles or tinctures, is not allowed in medical marijuana retail facilities. However, the state is still working on rules governing recreational marijuana retail establishments. It is likely that on-premise consumption will be allowed. Additional limitations can be found on the state website at michigan.gov/bmr.

“We invite you to take this survey. It should take only a couple of minutes of your time and is completely confidential. Your opinions about marihuana retail establishments in the City of Saugatuck are very important to us,” the survey preamble said.

Among all 392 responses concerning benefits of medical marijuana, 32 percent said inclusiveness, 26 percent that it creates a positive image, 44 percent convenience, 26 percent it would increase off-season foot traffic and 6-percent other.

Seen as positives for recreational use were inclusiveness, 29 percent; creates positive image, 21 percent; convenience, 38 percent; increase off-season foot traffic, 28 percent; potential tax revenue, 47 percent; attract younger visitors, 23 percent; and other 3 percent.

Among respondents, concerns were higher. For medical marijuana, 42 percent listed illegal sales, 38 percent negative impact on businesses, 32 percent increased crime, 36 percent unsavory clientele, 34 percent unattractive signs or facades, 37 percent negative image and 9 percent other.

For recreational marijuana, 50 percent listed concern about illegal sales, 43 percent negative impact on businesses, 41 percent increased crime, 44 percent unsavory clientele, 38 percent unattractive signs or facades, 44 percent negative image and 9 percent other.

The 45 business owners who responded tended to see both uses in a brighter light than the overall norm but also expressed considerable concerns.

Similarly, full-time residents viewed allowing medical and recreational use more favorably than part-time residents but had wide concerns.

Sample comments:

  • Saugatuck has a strong history of being progressive and unique. Don’t let (neighbor city) Douglas (which last year OK’d medical marijuana and now has two provisioning centers being built) have ALL the tax benefits! •
  • Compete with other area

communities. Best if kept at edges of shopping district or even better, Blue Star (Highway) commercial.

  • Positive moral position.
  • Medical marijuana should be available to people who are helped by it and shouldn’t have to travel to obtain (it). The storefronts’ signage and image would be important. Should look more like a drugstore than a

“sleazy” store. I don’t have anything against the use of recreational marijuana but there is still a stigma attached to its use. I think it would reflect poorly on our downtown image to have a store here.

  • I think it would damage the charm of our city. This could change the nature of our tourist base, impacting local business. Until controls over things such as over-serving, identifying methods of determining levels of impairment, etc, I believe it will make our roads more dangerous. Imagine impaired drivers on the roads to Oval Beach with all of the walkers, runners and bikers sharing the narrow road, for example. I know this is already a risk, but let’s not add to it by making Saugatuck a pot destination city.
  • Anywhere any business is legal, it’s legal. We shouldn’t discriminate. Let the market speak for itself.
  • Not against recreational marijuana if limited. Saugatuck is too small to have marijuana sales in the city. Also it would hurt the family-friendly image of the city and its surroundings.
  • It’s legal.
  • Concern of stoned people and traffic. Stoned/drunk people and traffic.
  • Sale and use of marijuana is a federal CRIME. Location — pharmacists.
  • It is time to join the 21st century, Saugatuck leaders. Once again Douglas has a leg up because they find reasons to take action, not excuses to do nothing like Saugatuck. Our city is transforming before our very eyes; do not let another opportunity and service, that will add to our tax base in many ways, pass us by.
  • Non user. We have been historically progressive. People are going to spend the money (so) spend it here! I know more 60-plus-year-olds who smoke pot than 20-year-olds.
  • Saugatuck has always been a party town.” Currently there are at least 15 places where people can drink alcoholic beverages. A couple of pot shops can’t hurt our image. Just hold them to high standards of appearance

and operation (and keep them off Hoffman Street between Butler and Water streets; that street already is our “skid row.”) The grungy hippy type people that no one wants to see on our streets will not buy their weed at a fancy shop in Saugatuck. They will grow their own at home, as they should.