Pentwater not Potwater: debate rages on village dispensaries
It’s a debate that many communities in northern Michigan still face, whether or not it is about welcoming recreational marijuana. It is currently a very active and visual debate in the village of Pentwater, where they are set up to have the first dispensaries in Oceana County. Unless a group of citizens can stand in the way.
“We want Pentwater, not Potwater,” said Dan Hoekstra, member of Concerned Citizens of Pentwater.
If you walk through Pentwater, you will definitely see red signs in front of dozens of houses, Pentwater and not Potwater. A group of citizens oppose the village council’s decision to opt for the recreational marijuana trade.
“Most of the villagers had no idea what was going on and when we started putting up signs, that’s when people started asking questions,” Hoekstra said. “Everyone was shocked that this was just approved.”
The group wants the people to decide with an initiative to vote. The village council voted alone, 6 to 1, to register in July. Concerned Pentwater citizens say the process was within the rules but not transparent. The council said it had discussed the matter in several meetings and made its decision after saying it had researched the plight of other communities for a year and a half.
“Overwhelmingly, there are many more advantages than disadvantages,” said Jeff Hodges, chairman of the village council, “And knowing our community as intimately as most of our council members, we decided that ‘it was better at this point to go ahead.
Many would say there is no reason to have a voting measure now, because in 2018, when recreational marijuana was on the ballot statewide, the village of Pentwater voted for legalize it. The vote barely gets above 50%.
Opponents of recreational marijuana in the village say a lot can change in three years and voting for statewide legalization isn’t the same as having it here in your backyard.
“This is what voters do,” Hoekstra said, “This is American democracy and this is the way we should be doing it.”
“We were elected to do what’s best for our community, so based on the information, the elected people made a decision,” Hodges said, “Knowing and thinking about what’s best for our community. “
This is where the board sees the benefit, increased tax revenue and year round activity.
“We are a big city. We’re a great place, but it’s a 10 week city, ”said Hodges,“ We want to be a year round city and I think that’s a step in the right direction.
This debate should be discussed at the next village council on October 11.