December 12, 2018

Commissioners oppose bait ban and legalization of marijuana

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MIO — The Oscoda County Board of Commissioners passed resolutions in opposition to marijuana legalization and the ban on baiting deer at its Sept. 25 meeting.

Resolution 2018-15 is the county’s official opposition to legalizing marijuana for general consumption. It states that as the commissioners are unable to foresee all of the associated risks and impacts legalization could possibly have on local communities, they are opposed to the statewide legalization.

The resolution states that addictive substances like alcohol and tobacco result in higher public health and social costs than the revenue they generate. It claims the cost of alcohol on society is 15 times more than the revenue generated by taxation. The resolution says increased consumption of marijuana could lead to even higher public health and financial costs for the county; however, it does not provide evidence to support this, or any other reason it lists.

Near the end of the resolution it encourages other communities in the county to oppose recreational legalization by adopting similar resolutions. It does make a point to say this resolution is not in opposition to medical marijuana.

Resolution 2018-14 is the county’s formal opposition to the Department of Natural Resources’ recommendation to the Natural Resources Commission to ban baiting for deer in the Lower Peninsula. It states that the county believes the ban of the sale of bait and the practice itself would be detrimental to the local economy.

The reason the DNR has called for a ban on baiting is a debilitating sickness known as chronic wasting disease that has been found in deer populations in the state. According to the state’s emerging diseases website, it is generally believed that one way the sickness is spread is through mucus and saliva contact. Leaving piles of bait for deer to congregate at increases the chances CWD will be spread by contact to other deer, and eventually other herds. The virus is known to be extremely resistant to environmental hazards, which increases its transferability. If contracted, CWD is always fatal.

Although the DNR is only recommending halting the practice of baiting, the resolution says it is in opposition to banning the sale of bait as well. Also, the resolution says it is against the banning of baiting across the entire Lower Peninsula. It does not state whether or not the county would be in favor of a more targeted bait ban for areas most affected by CWD.

An additional resolution passed, 2018-16, involves the county’s support for the development of an additional lock at the Soo Locks. It mentions that as the locks are of significant importance to the economy of the state and the nation, it recommends another lock be built to improve the lock system.

According to the resolution, out of 196 locks on the Great Lakes, the Soo Locks system is the most important due to its significance to the economy. It says the locks save $3.5 billion in transportation costs each year, and that if they were shut down for six months it would result in the loss of 111 million jobs. That information is from the state’s “Fix the Soo Locks” website, however similarly to resolution 2018-15, no citation is given for where this information is from.

The resolution notes that as the 49-year-old Poe Lock is in need of repair, and the MacArthur Lock is not big enough to allow modern freighters to pass through, the state should build a new, third lock. That lock would be comparative in size and function to the Poe Lock.

None of the resolutions mentioned in this article were discussed at a workshop or board of commissioners meeting, and no public comment went into their creation.

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