The city of St. Joseph is saying no to drugs for the time being. The city commission Monday night voted to direct City Attorney Laurie Schmidt and city staff to opt out of allowing commercial businesses involved in recreational marijuana if voters approve the legalization of the drug on November 6. Schmidt told commissioners they’re only looking to keep the businesses out, and can’t stop the drugs.
“If it does pass and you do chose to opt out, that’s for the commercial establishments only,” Schmidt told commissioners. “People could still personally be allowed to carry two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana on their person in the city of St. Joseph.”
Mayor Mike Garey responded to a resident who was badgering the commission to take a stand one way or the other on the ballot proposal as the Berrien County Board of Commissioners has done. He said the city commission tries to be apolitical, will respect the vote, and won’t take a public position as a body.
“I agree with the pause button, let the voters come up with what they want, and then we’ll follow the state,” said Garey. He added “it’s going to be very, very complicated. Personally, I don’t think it’s going to be the end all, I don’t think it’s going to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
Proponents of the ballot issue say by taxing marijuana like alcohol, the state will bring in more tax dollars for things like fixing the roads and drastically cut down on the black market for the drug. Law enforcement officials have been pushing back, warning of the dangers to kids of increased availability of the drug. We’ll decide one way or the other on November 6.