Medical marijuana money no longer going directly into elected officials' pockets

LEONI TWP., MI – A packed audience clapped in approval Tuesday, Feb. 13, as multiple Leoni Township officials handed back uncashed checks they received from medical marijuana application fees.

Township officials voted 6-0 to abolish the previously agreed upon fee structure, which distributed $1,100 of the $5,000 received per application to the township supervisor, clerk and treasurer.

Now, application money will be set aside for a year until officials can determine what is owed to officials, based on hours worked.

Trustees Kurt Cole, Corey Kennedy and Jerry Cox ($1,200 combined), as well as Supervisor Howard Linnabary ($6,300) handed in their checks for the first round of 18 applications – the only wages paid to the officials so far.

Treasurer Lori Stack wasn’t at the meeting, Trustee Mike Villarreal didn’t receive a check. Clerk Michele Manke didn’t hand in a check. All could see money in 2019 based on hours put in, however.

“Today was definitely a big win,” Trustee Kurt Cole said. “I’m just proud of the township. People showed up, they asked for accountability and they got it.”

More than 60 residents crammed into the township hall, with a handful expressing their displeasure during public comment.

“Why is this plan irresponsible? The excessive amount of money that’s been allocated for administrative work significantly reduces the amount that’s left for enforcement,” said resident Neeta Delaney. “(Which is) work that we desperately need to keep our community safe.”

County Commissioner Carl Rice Jr. also expressed his disappointment before the vote.

“Elected officials are not supposed to take money from a source just because an attorney says it’s legal. Just because something’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s right,” Rice said. “I have not found one elected official at different levels of government that finds this as the right thing to do.”

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