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MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – Recreational marijuana sales are on the ballot again in Egelston Township.

Voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to allow “adult-use” recreational marijuana sales at existing medical marijuana provisioning centers, which are promoting the proposal.

The petition-driven initiative comes just over a year after voters rejected a broader recreational marijuana proposal.

This year’s proposal seeks an ordinance allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries to co-locate with medical marijuana provisioning centers.

Egelston Township allows two medical provisioning centers, and one is currently operating, township Clerk Joan Raap told MLive.

The Exclusive Muskegon Medical Marijuana provisioning center operates at 4515 E. Apple Avenue.

Plush Companies has a license from the state to operate a medical marijuana provisioning center at 1005 S. Maple Island Road, according to the State of Michigan.

The owner of Plush, Hany Boutros, said he is focusing on his medical marijuana grow operation before opening the provisioning center. The township allows for medical marijuana grow operations.

Boutros is the treasurer for the ballot initiative’s campaign finance committee that is called Egelston’s Freedom to Choose. The committee lists its address as 6755 E. Apple Ave., which is where Plush’s grow operation is located.

“I believe that the passage of this ordinance is important for our community,” Boutros told MLive in an email. “That is why I volunteered.”

Employees of Plush also were among volunteers who collected the signatures need to place the initiative on November’s ballot, Boutros said.

Employees of the Exclusive Muskegon provisioning center also volunteered to gather signatures, Narmin Jarrous, chief development officer for Exclusive Brands, told MLive. Employees at the provisioning center advocated passage of the initiative to their customers as well, Jarrous said.

“Exclusive Brands is really proud to be supporting this initiative and trying to inform people as best as we can of the nuances of the initiative that’s going on in Egleston Township,” she said. “We’ve always made it our goal to increase accessibility to cannabis in any community that we’re in.

“People rely on (marijuana) for their quality of life — to get through pain and cancer diagnoses,” Jarrous said. “And so many times getting a medical card isn’t easy.”

Exclusive Brands also operates retail stores in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

“We really want the Democratic process to do its thing we want people’s voices to be heard,” Jarrous said.

When asked if she thought township voters’ voices were heard when they voted 545 to 451 to defeat last year’s marijuana proposal, Jarrous said people opposed to an issue are more likely to turn out to vote.

“We vote on things multiple times all the time,” she said. “A lot of the time, a lot of people don’t know these things are happening.”

She also said as time goes on, people understand that marijuana sales are “not this big scary thing.”

“There’s always going to be the fear of the unknown … As people see that these provisioning centers aren’t having a negative impact on their communities and see other communities that are benefiting from the tax revenue, they’ll be more comfortable with it happening in their backyard,” Jarrous said, adding it’s “already happening in their backyard.”

Neighboring Muskegon Township has approved adult-use recreational marijuana and has several dispensaries as does Muskegon. Muskegon Heights also has approved recreational sales.

Boutros told MLive that if the initiative is approved, it would bring $590,000 in revenue to the township over 10 years, with just Exclusive’s retail operation. Once his opens, annual revenue will double, he said.

Recreational marijuana sales have a 10% excise tax, revenues from which are distributed to communities with adult-use licenses, the K-12 education fund and the state’s fund for repairing roads and bridges.

This year, Muskegon area governments received more than $1.3 million in marijuana tax revenues based on 2021 excise taxes and licensing fees.

That includes $56,453 to Muskegon Heights, which had one licensed facility; $169,360 to Muskegon Township, which had three licenses; and $451,628 to Muskegon, which had eight licenses.

The county of Muskegon received $677,441 based on all 12 licenses in the county.

The proposal defeated by Egelston voters last August would have allowed two recreational marijuana dispensaries, two recreational marijuana grow operations and two marijuana processing operations in the township.

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