A discussion on whether the City of Saline should ban public consumption of marijuana products turned into a discussion on air quality – and that may lead to new restrictions on tobacco smokers.
In November, voters in Michigan and City of Saline voted to legalize recreational marijuana. And while several prominent news publications have said that smoking pot will be illegal in parks and on public sidewalks, City of Saline attorney Roger Swets has told council for a third consecutive meeting it should decide whether or not public consumption should be legal.
The law reads that “this act does not authorize … consuming marihuana in a public place.” But does that necessarily prohibit smoking in a public place?
Swets said this one of several issues the city could decide for itself if it didn’t want to wait for the state to sort it out. Other similar issues including using in privately-owned public places, like taverns, or regulating of certain kinds of paraphernalia.
Council came to quick agreement that it didn’t want to see smoking of marijuana on sidewalks and other city-owned places.
Councillor Jack Ceo said he thought marijuana used should be regulated like alcohol. Ceo noted perhaps that meant the city might allow public consumption at a festival – the way the city allows beer and wine consumption at public events. But on a regular, day-to-day level, he believes people shouldn’t walk on city sidewalks smoking marijuana.
“I’ve already been contacted by several folks who said they wanted to have the streets safe so they could walk their children down the street without having to small people smoking in public,” Ceo said.
Councillor Janet Dillon agreed – and said she thought public consumption of edible marijuana products should also be prohibited.
Dillon went on to suggest city residents should be free from having to smell others smoke tobacco in public.
Councillors Dean Girbach and Christen Mitchell and Mayor Brian Marl also expressed support for that idea, with Marl and Mitchell suggesting they’d be in favor of a clean air ordinance.
Mitchell said that she has lung issues. She said when she visits Grand Rapids, so many people smoke in public that she has to take her asthma medicine.
Swets told council he believed the marijuana consumption ordinance and clean air ordinance were two separate issues.
“The clean air ordinance is a much more expansive and involved discussion,” he told council.
Marl said a clean air ordinance would be a good matter to take to the city’s code task force.
If the city chooses to ban public consumption of marijuana products, it’s unclear if it would be a civil infraction or a misdemeanor.
In a related matter, council agreed the city should amend its drug paraphernalia ordinance to remove several marijuana-related devices currently prohibited.