Members of Constantine Village Council learned Monday they may not put the topic of adult-use marijuana on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Following discussion, the board decided to hold a public hearing regarding the proposal.
Village manager Mark Honeysett told the council that, when he approached the county clerk with an “advisory question,” a type of ballot measure in which citizens vote on a non-binding question, she told him it is not legal.
He checked afterward with village attorney Howard Bush and Catherine Kaufman, an attorney who gave advice to the village previously regarding the marijuana ordinance.
“I just learned the council can’t put this or any other ordinance on the ballot,” Honeysett said Monday.
Some localities, such as Sturgis, have a charter that allows them to vote, but Constantine cannot, he said.
“We are a ‘general law’ village. You came up with a really good document, but this puts the ball back in your court,” he said. “I suggest setting up a public hearing and voting on the ordinance.”
The advantage, Honeysett said, is action will occur sooner than the November ballot, but the disadvantage is that some will be unhappy, whatever the decision.
There are two diametrically opposed viewpoints in the village, Honeysett told the board.
“Someone could petition for a referendum to place the matter on the ballot after all. If a petition drive is successful, the question could be on the ballot in February 2021.”
The council has been studying the topic for a little less than a year.
Several council members expressed frustration.
“We worked at a lot of meetings, decided finally to put this on the ballot, only to find out at the last minute that we can’t?” trustee Cathy Piper said. “This should have been decided first, before we worked on it.”
Tustee Kenda Cartagena said the council has spent plenty of time considering the measure.
“We don’t want to wait any longer,” Cartagena said. “I want this decided.”
Trustee Joe Faulker said it’s best to hold a public hearing and “put this behind us.”
Trustee Dick Larrance asked, what if the board takes no action?
Honeysett, calling it a “dead issue” stated “the council already voted against it,” referring to an Aug. 19, 2019 meeting. “They have been discussing the issue since then, receiving a lot of public input at council meetings.”
The council set a public hearing for 7:03 p.m. Sept. 8 to discuss adult-use marijuana and plans to vote thereafter on adopting the ordinance.