Less than two weeks from the May election and two Oceana County communities will be voting on the future of marijuana in their neighborhoods.
Both are coming at the vote from different directions, one with support of the council and one from the community.
“They think this could possibly change the quaintness of our village,” Said Jeff Hodges, Pentwater Village Council president, “They probably thought that about bars 40 years ago.”
On May 3, the village of Pentwater will vote on if they will accept retail marijuana facilities. The village council approved the idea, but last fall a group of citizens pushed back and said it needs to go to a vote.
“That’s how voters do it and that’s the old American democracy and that’s how we should be doing,” said Dan Hoekstra of Concerned Citizens of Pentwater.
Signatures were collected and now the voters will decide one way or the other.
“People also elected us to do what we thought was best and I really did my research and the things that I could do,” Said Hodges, “I believe the rest of the council did too and voted for what they thought was best for this community.”
A similar situation is sparking in nearby Shelby Township, only reverse.
The township council voted twice to opt out of the marijuana industry, only to have a citizen petition earn enough signatures to take it to the people.
The proposals are the only ballot items in each community but the impact could be widespread as there are no current retail stores in Oceana or Mason Counties.
“Realistically we will only have one store, perhaps two,” said Hodges, “A free market will dictate how many stores are here.”
Whichever way the votes go, they will stick, as what the people in the area want.
“It’s a democratic process, they’re allowed to do it and they’re doing it,” said Hodges, “It kind of takes it out of our hands and will just see where it ends up.”