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The city of Kalamazoo is weighing the pros and cons of allowing recreational marijuana shops

Marijuana plants
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Marijuana plants

The city of Kalamazoo is still undecided on whether it will allow recreational marijuana shops to open in the city.

So it’s holding a public workshop to weigh the pros and cons, Monday evening at 6pm in the community room at Kalamazoo City Hall, 241 W. South St.

Clyde Robinson, Kalamazoo City Attorney, says the meeting is to familiarize residents and city officials on the nuances of what would happen if the city decides to opt in or out of recreational marijuana businesses.

Robinson says it is unlikely that the city will vote on anything related to recreational marijuana on Monday evening.

Cities including Grand Haven, Rockford, Saugatuck, Portland, Dearborn, Hillsdale and Charlevoix have all opted out of recreational marijuana shops despite voters legalizing it last year.

Keith Van Beek, the City Manager in Holland, which also opted out, says there are still too many unanswered questions about the marijuana business.

“The state still has a lot of work to do and a lot of information to put out as to how even they would begin to regulate that,” Van Beek says.

Tami VandenBerg, a cannabis activist and business owner in Grand Rapids, says there’s often a big disconnect between city officials and voters.

“Prop 1 was a huge win. The voters were for it, the citizens were for it. So elected officials need to pay attention,” VandenBerg says.

VandenBerg says not allowing marijuana dispensaries is saying no to a good business opportunity, but she understands why so many are reluctant to accept marijuana as a legitimate business.

“I think we’re dealing with 80 years of stigma, 80 years of propaganda against marijuana, against cannabis. It’s seen as controversial,” she says.

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