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Town’s Top Officials Face Recall For Marijuana Application Fees

Towns Top Officials Face Recall For Marijuana Application Fees

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Town’s Top Officials Face Recall For Marijuana Application Fees

O'Dea/Wikimedia Commons

Town’s Top Officials Face Recall For Marijuana Application Fees

After collecting a fixed percentage from thousand-dollar dispensary fees, town officials are facing a recall petition.

Three local politicians in a Michigan county are facing a petition to recall them. A fellow state official and the organization behind him are accusing Jackson County’s top three representatives of wrongfully taking money from medical marijuana dispensary applications. Here’s a look at at the Michigan marijuana controversy, and the legislation that led to it.

Medical Marijuana Is Evolving In Michigan

Michigan implemented new marijuana regulations in 2016. This meant that pre-existing dispensaries had to apply for new licenses this fall. Cities and townships also implemented their own unique regulations. As many businesses failed to meet the December deadline or receive local support, officials have closed over 200 Michigan dispensaries.

But it isn’t all bad news for marijuana in Michigan. The state is looking to expand its medical marijuana program by adding new qualifying conditions. State residents are going to vote on legalization this fall, too.

Both these initiatives would greatly increase the number of marijuana takers in Michigan, making legal weed even bigger business.

Leoni County’s MMJ Program Has Already Ignited Controversy

In December of last year, the Leoni County government implemented a new dispensary application structure that entitled officials to part of the application fees. This meant that for every $5,000 fee, town officials were pocketing a fixed percentage.

According to MLive, the county clerk took 10%, the supervisor 7%, the treasurer 5%, building and zoning clerks 5% and trustees 3%, while the rest of the funds went to administrative and zoning expenses. Considering the volume of applications, this translated to payments numbering in the thousands of dollars.

Not everyone supported this fee structure: Trustees Kurt Cole and Corey Kennedy, who is now leading the recall, did not vote in favor.

Top Officials Face Recall Following Thousand Person Petition

Though Michigan requires only 984 signatures to hold a town recall vote, political organization Reform Leoni collected more than 1,100. Corey Kennedy is working with them to recall fellow government officials Clerk Michele Manke, Supervisor Howard Linnabary and Treasurer Lori Stack.

“For me personally, the signatures I went and obtained, nine out of 10 people were more than willing to sign. That’s a pretty good indicator,” Kennedy explained to MLive. “They want to rectify the situation and they want to put qualified individuals who will do what’s morally correct.”

We spoke with Supervisor Howard Linnabary about Corey Kennedy, who said,  “You got a rogue, what I call a rogue trustee that is against us. And it’s his word versus our word.”

Denying the allegations which he described as “uncouth lies,” Linnabary added, “because we’re taking the application money and apparently stuffing it in our pockets and so forth, and stealing it is what they’re accusing us of. Which we haven’t done.”

According to Linnabary, Kennedy isn’t innocent either. He told Green Rush Daily, “by the way, Mr. Corey Kennedy, he also took a check just like I did. And I gave mine back. And he gave his back too. So he’s really no different than me.”

Linnabary allegedly took over $4,000 dollars in fees, while fellow officials Manke and Stack have kept over $6,000 and $3,000 each, respectively. Everyone besides Manke has since returned the money.

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