More than 40 Hillsdale res­i­dents voiced their opinions about the pos­si­bility of medical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries coming to the City of Hillsdale during a public hearing at a city council meeting on Tuesday.

According to the meeting’s running tally, about 76 percent spoke against the pro­posal while 24 percent spoke in favor.

Although med­i­cinal mar­i­juana has been legal in Michigan since 2008, the city has restricted its avail­ability from store­fronts. After the state pro­vided an edu­ca­tional meeting in March intended to teach city employees on how to approach the issue, rumors began spreading that the city would allow pot shops to open in downtown Hillsdale. The city council will soon vote on whether to institute state allowances regarding medical mar­i­juana in the city.

Com­munity opinion on the issue was divided from the start. Those in favor argue that store­front avail­ability of medical mar­i­juana will bring much-needed business to Hillsdale. Among those are city council can­di­dates Dennis Wain­scott and Penny Swan, both of whom spoke at the public hearing.

“We need the business, so let’s step outside of our comfort zone and go for it,” Swan said.

The business side of the mar­i­juana question, however, has put local entre­preneur Thomas Defer in a pre­carious position. Earlier this year, Defer bought a building on Indus­trial Drive in antic­i­pation of the city allowing for a grow facility in con­junction with the opening of medical mar­i­juana shops.

Speaking at the hearing, Defer said he hopes the ini­tia­tives pass so that he can provide business to the town. Defer appealed to those in oppo­sition, saying he’s inter­ested in making money by selling his product else­where in the state.

“We’re not looking to provide medical mar­i­juana as a store­front society,” he said. “We’re looking to grow mar­i­juana for Lansing and let Lansing decide where it gets shipped to.”

Local res­ident Jon Smith said this position does not follow log­i­cally.

“If we’ve already decided that this is not good for our com­munity, then why would you put it on another com­munity?” he said.

Others in favor cited medical needs, saying the healing power CBD and the high from THC — the two major chemical com­pounds in mar­i­juana — have helped them with a battery of medical problems in ways that pre­scription pills like Oxy­cotin could not.

“Medical mar­i­juana really did save my life,” local res­ident Kelly Cook said. “Before it, I missed my son’s eighth grade grad­u­ation because I was hal­lu­ci­nating coming off of Sym­balta. And I had only been on Sym­balta for a week.”

Those opposed to medical mar­i­juana stores cited several reasons for the drug to be kept out of Hillsdale.

Quoting the “Journal of Clinical and Psy­cho­logical Science,” Kelly Scott Franklin, Hillsdale res­ident and pro­fessor of English, said people who use medical mar­i­juana tend to expe­rience “downward socioe­co­nomic mobility, more financial dif­fi­culties, work­place problems, and rela­tionship con­flict in early mid life.”

“I think the idea that this would be eco­nom­i­cally sound in a place that already suffers from poverty is quite prob­lematic,” he said.

Other res­i­dents cited worries that the city would only make store­front mar­i­juana available because it appeared to be a quick fix to the city’s ongoing eco­nomic problem.

“If making money is the sole purpose, that’s wrong,” local res­ident Berna Bailey said. “If it’s to help people out, then that’s another issue.”

In keeping with its opening res­o­lution, the council did not make a decision on the matter. According to Bell, the council will discuss store­front medical mar­i­juana at its next meeting on Sept. 18.