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Pot for potholes? Communities talk tax revenue from legalized marijuana

Posted: 6:51 PM, Oct 08, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-09 08:35:57-04

Medical marijuana businesses are common in many communities, but in the City of Brighton there are none. 

When medical marijuana was legalized in Michigan ten years ago, the city banned such businesses within its borders.

“We protected the residents and the municipality from something totally new and uncharted,” said Shawn Pipoly, Brighton City Councilmember

Pipoly says city leaders did so out of respect for the conservative views of residents. During a public meeting last week, city leaders discussed a need to hear from residents again.

A proposal on the November ballot would, if passed, legalize recreational marijuana and treat the drug like alcohol.  It would lead to tax revenue for communities that allow marijuana businesses.  

Will views on banning marijuana businesses change if it costs the city tax revenue?

“If there are tax dollars to be had from something being legal, it is a valid situation we need to look at,” said Pipoly.

City leaders face challenges analyzing the situation. Brighton is a city where everyone seems to have a different opinion on the issue. Plus, it is unclear what kind of revenue is at stake.

Under the law on the ballot, money collected would go towards the implementation and enforcement of the act, to clinical trials on marijuana, and then would be split between the school aid fund, the transportation fund, and counties and cities that allow marijuana businesses.  

It is unclear how much tax revenue it could bring in to the state.  A low estimate from analysts is approximately $100 million a year.

Under some estimates in Oakland County, it could mean an extra $5 to 10 million dollars a year for roads. 

Craig Bryson of the Oakland County Road Commission says voters should know that would help, but in total, the county alone needs a couple of billion additional dollars over the next ten years to repair its roads.

“We have a road funding gap. Five to 10 million is great, but not going to solve the problem,” said Bryson.