ROCHESTER, Mich. (WXYZ) — Two proposals on the ballot Nov. 7 would allow for marijuana dispensaries in the city of Rochester, but it’s not happening without a fight.

When marijuana was first legalized in Michigan, Rochester was one of many cities to opt out, but a new group gathered petitions to put the issue on the Rochester ballot.

If you drive down Main Street, it’s hard to not know about Tuesday’s election. Countless signs are urging voters to vote no on the proposals to bring up to three marijuana dispensaries to the city.

The proposals were drafted by the Open Stores in Rochester Committee based out of Ingham County, which collected hundreds of signatures to get the issue on the ballot. Some of their signs posted in town focus on the tax benefits to the city.

However Kim Russell, a business owner and Rochester resident, is pushing back. She says the tax revenues created would amount to 1% of the city’s budget. She recently launched the “No Pot on Main Street” Committee.

“It just really isn’t appropriate for our size and what we really have as a culture in downtown Rochester,” Russell said of dispensaries.

Russell has concerns about traffic and says the proposals were written without local input.

“We’re not against cannabis,” Russell said. “We know it helps a lot of people, but it has to be in the right locations and it has to be written by our policy makers, which is city council.”

The Rochester Downtown Development Authority has expressed concerns on the proposal, saying it could bring dispensaries downtown without their control.

“There are lots of places in this state already established to partake, and our tiny 3.5-square-mile hamlet is ill-equipped to handle all that the baggage they bring along,” Rochester DDA Chair Ben Giovanelli said in a letter posted on the DDA website.

Many voters 7 Action News spoke to Monday night in downtown Rochester agreed.

“I would probably vote no just to protect the integrity of our downtown,” Rochester resident Theresa Mullane said. “I think as long as it’s not in the downtown Rochester area, it would be fine.”

“I haven’t always been the biggest proponent of marijuana in general and would prefer it not to stay in our community,” Nick Mullane said.

“We want to keep the culture the way it was,” Rochester resident Leela Vupputuri said. “We don’t want to spoil that, so that’s why we wanted to say no to it.”

In a statement, Noah Harfouch, an attorney and Open Stores in Rochester Committee member, said:

“Voting yes for cannabis in Rochester is a visionary step towards fostering job growth without adding to traffic congestion, while simultaneously providing a boost to our community through Michigan tax revenue. It’s a win-win proposition that not only stimulates economic development but also enriches the well-being of our residents, all within the framework of a safe and viable industry.”

 Two proposals on the ballot Nov. 7 would allow for marijuana dispensaries in the city of Rochester, but it’s not happening without a fight.  Read More