City council passes two ordi­nances that will pro­hibit the public con­sumption and estab­lishment of stores that sell mar­i­juana.

The City of Hillsdale passed two ordi­nances that will pro­hibit the public con­sumption and estab­lishment of stores that sell mar­i­juana at Monday’s city council meeting. The ordi­nance is part of an “opt-out” pro­cedure of a new state law, allow munic­i­pal­ities to pro­hibit the legal­ization of recre­ational mar­i­juana within its juris­diction.

Recre­ational mar­i­juana becomes legal in Michigan on Dec. 6, after a bill was passed in early November. The bill included an “opt-out” option, which allows com­mu­nities to decline to par­tic­ipate in the new state law. The Hillsdale City Council passed both ordi­nances at its Dec. 3 meeting in an unan­imous vote.

“I think, con­sid­ering Hillsdale voted against the legal­ization of recre­ational mar­i­juana, that it is totally appro­priate to dis­courage dis­pen­saries from opening in town,” Mayor Adam Stockford said in an email. “We don’t have gentlemen’s clubs or casinos in town either and most of us are fine with that.”

The first ordi­nance pro­hibits the sale and use of mar­i­juana in a public place. Breaking the ordi­nance is pun­ishable by a $500 fine. The second ordi­nance pro­hibits the estab­lishment of dis­pen­saries within city limits.

“The election results in Hillsdale saw not just Hillsdale County but the City of Hillsdale as one of the very few places in the state that voted against recre­ational mar­i­juana, so I feel pretty com­fortable saying that the demo­c­ratic will of the res­i­dents of Hillsdale is that the majority don’t want mar­i­juana busi­nesses here,” Stockford said during the city council meeting.

Stockford also drew sim­i­lar­ities between mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries and estab­lish­ments like casinos or men’s clubs, saying that not every­thing should be allowed simply because they bring in revenue.

“It doesn’t mean we want to change the flavor of our town for every little dollar that’s out there,” Stockford said during the meeting.

Other members of the council agreed.

“There’s no pos­itive affect to this. It destroys our younger people,” said Coun­cilman Greg Stuchell. “It’s a vice we don’t need.”

The meeting also pro­vided an oppor­tunity for city res­i­dents to speak pub­licly about allowing the recre­ational use of mar­i­juana, with some speaking in favor of the state law.

One res­ident pro­posed banning public con­sumption, but allowing a limited number of dis­pen­saries within the city.

“Like it or not, it’s here to stay,” she said.

Laurie Brandes, the coor­di­nator for the Hillsdale County Sub­stance Abuse Pre­vention Coalition, spoke out against allowing recre­ational mar­i­juana. A study of fre­quency of mar­i­juana among Hillsdale County 11th graders showed a 55 percent increase in what Brandes called “fre­quent” use, according to Brandes.

“We appre­ciate the council con­sid­ering this ordi­nance to opt out of mar­i­juana business in the city of HIllsdale,” Brandes said. “One of the premises of pre­vention is to limit supply and we believe not having store­fronts in the city of Hillsdale would help limit that issue.”

The ordi­nances will go into effect on Dec. 18, according to Katy Price, the interim city clerk.

“It isn’t about lim­iting freedoms or the mar­ket­place, it’s about main­taining as much inde­pen­dence and local control over our city as pos­sible,” Stockford said in an email. “That’s part of what makes Hillsdale special. We don’t need to be Ann Arbor to be a place of learning and culture or of recre­ational oppor­tu­nities. We love what we are.”