Extra revenue is dope, but maybe not for Pinckney

Disclaimer: The thoughts and initiative interpretation expressed in this piece are solely mine and do not represent the positions of the Pinckney Village Council, or individual staff and trustees. In the interest of transparency, I am currently a trustee on Pinckney Village Council and voted in favor of opting out of allowing retail and production facilities in the village at this time. In even more disclosure, I voted in favor of the statewide ballot measure.

You couldn’t help but hear that the Village of Pinckney “opted out” of allowing marijuana production and retail facilities in the village, shortly after the passage of Proposal 1 legalized recreational marijuana in the state of Michigan. After all, the local newspaper did a rather extensive story on it, before the village council even met on Monday night. Michigan Radio picked up the news as well, which I was surprised to hear on my way home from work – after all, how often do you hear about Pinckney on Michigan Radio?

WHMI attended the meeting and their news piece appeared Tuesday morning, and of course, all hell broke loose on Facebook. Including all the ferociously rude comments about the stupidity of Pinckney (or Pinkney as it was usually spelled – yes, irony abounds) and how we were already the meth/heroin capital of the world, and so on. My favorite was a woman who commented that perhaps we were afraid marijuana sales would “hurt heroine sales.” To my knowledge, no one is selling heroines here. Or heroes for that matter.

Also amusing: the number of people who were super concerned that little old Pinckney was missing out on all that tax revenue that would be generated by marijuana sales. And the folks who were irate that residents would have to drive, maybe as far as Brighton — or maybe even farther — to buy their weed. And then those communities would get all that lovely tax money!

The concern is so sweet, but cut me a break. You can’t even buy socks here. We all drive to Costco and Meijer and Olive Garden and Kohl’s. And now some folks might have to drive 15 miles to get rolling papers? You have to drive that far for shoes. And medical care. And that 36-pack of toilet paper.

Facebook is a terrible place to explain anything. So I stopped trying. But first of all, no one is going to see anything for at least a year, more likely two. There are no licenses to issue yet, and the state has a year to get the process in place.

And about that waterfall of tax money that will just be cascading into our communities, so we can fix our roads and sidewalks and streetlights and cure cancer and whatever: the Senate Fiscal Agency estimates that Michigan could collect $193 million from the low excise tax it will impose (10 percent, lowest of all the states that have legalized pot so far – 15 percent seems the norm, while Washington collects 37 percent), in the first year of licensed operations. Of that $193 million, $20 million is committed each year to fund FDA approved medical marijuana research.

That leaves $173 million. From there, the state will retain what it needs to cover licensing, regulation, enforcement, administration. Additionally, it will have to pay back whatever it spends from the general fund to set everything up — applications, licensing, reviewing, and so on. So let’s say 30 percent of that $173 mil stays in Lansing. That’s probably low, but hey, maybe they’ll be really efficient.

$121.1 million in the statewide pot (ha) to be divvied up between schools, counties, municipalities, roads.  Municipalities get 15 percent.* That works out to be $18.16 million. In total. To be portioned out to ALL participating cities, townships and villages.

Did you know that Michigan has 1,775 municipalities, not counting counties? Let’s assume only half of them (886) allow licensed marijuana facilities of some sort.

$20,473.50. Each.

And that assumes each municipality only has ONE facility. The money, as far as I can tell, gets apportioned according to number of licensed facilities in a community. So if half those 886 communities have TWO facilities, the ones with just one facility — you know, like in a really tiny town like Pinckney — would get a whopping $13,664.40.

So yeah, it’s extra revenue, and that’s great. But a windfall of magical proportions? Now you’re just blowing smoke.


* From Section 14.3 of the initiative language: The department shall expend money in the fund first for the implementation, administration, and enforcement of this act, and second, until 2022 or for at least two years, to provide $20 million annually to one or more clinical trials that are approved by the United States food and drug administration and sponsored by a non-profit organization or researcher within an academic institution researching the efficacy of marihuana in treating the medical conditions of United States armed services veterans and preventing veteran suicide. Upon appropriation, unexpended balances must be allocated as follows: (a) 15% to municipalities in which a marihuana retail store or a marihuana microbusiness is located, allocated in proportion to the number of marihuana retail stores and marihuana microbusinesses within the municipality; (b) 15% to counties in which a marihuana retail store or a marihuana microbusiness is located, allocated in proportion to the number of marihuana retail stores and marihuana microbusinesses within the county; (c) 35% to the school aid fund to be used for K-12 education; and (d) 35% to the Michigan transportation fund to be used for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges.

All of the initiative language, as proposed by the “Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol,” can be found here

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Rebecca Foster writes about food, politics, books and whatever has irritated her on any particular day, on her website Usual and Ordinary (www.usualandordinary.com). She is an occasional contributor to The Livingston Post and has remained active in local politics and the community after serving as Pinckney Village President from 2004-2012, and as a trustee currently. She is enjoying empty-nesting in Pinckney with her husband, three cats and a few chickens.