(Monday - February 15, 2021) - At any given time during the past decade or so, there have been far more job openings in Dickinson County than there area unemployed persons to fill those openings. This is obviously a situation that is not sustainable over a long period of time.

Each year, for the past decade or so, Dickinson County has recorded more deaths than births. This is understandable with an ever-increasing median age in the County, since senior citizens only rarely parent children.

Each year, for the past decade or so, more and more of the County's young people have chosen to seek their fortunes elsewhere, taking themselves and possibly their families to "greener pastures."

Dickinson County is not exactly a horrible place to live, so why do so many choose to abandon their families and friends to leave the area? The number one reason given by those who have contacted us is boredom; lack of social opportunities.

Changing societal attitudes on alcohol, and "zero tolerance" enforcement by local police, have made the bars and taverns, where people have traditionally gathered for centuries, pretty much off limits to all but the bravest souls.

This leaves a good segment of the population with absolutely no access to a social life. Hence boredom; hence move to Green Bay, Milwaukee, etc.

No one is even suggesting that consumption of alcohol is a good idea.  Even if we disregard the societal aspects, the amount of damage that alcohol does to the consumer's body is unquestioned and in most cases obvious. Unfortunately, bars and taverns are the only social opportunities available in the region.

But there is an alternative, in the law passed by Michigan voters, legalizing cannabis in the State. We're talking about:

Designated Consumption Establishments.

Under the law, adults over the age of 21 are permitted to consume cannabis on the premises of what is often referred to as a "Cannabis Lounge." Think of a Designated Consumption Establishment as a "smoking lounge."

For those that have visited Amsterdam, a Designated Consumption Establishment will probably look fairly similar to a "coffeeshop."

There are different formats for these lounges. Some are along the traditional bar or tavern configuration, others more like informal living rooms, or lounging areas. Many also have things such as pool tables, dart boards, juke boxes, etc., available to customers. Most also sell soft drinks and "munchies."

Michigan's Designated Consumption Establishments are required to be kept separate from other marijuana-related businesses; with their own separate entrances and exits. In other words, a licensed Marijuana Retailer (dispensary) could have an accompanying Designated Consumption Lounge in an adjoining suite.

Some of these establishments operate with no on-site cannabis sales; more of a "bring your own" environment.  These establishments derive their income from amusements machines - pool tables, dart boards, video games, etc., and from the sale of concessions such as soft drinks and food items.

One criticism of Michigan's commercial medical marijuana system was the absence of any designated areas for consuming cannabis. The Marijuana Regulatory Agency solicited a significant amount of feedback from industry stakeholders as part of workgroup sessions, and it's clear that the Agency listened to the feedback by making sure there are businesses that can provide safe and responsible areas for adults to comfortably and legally consume cannabis.

The City Council has already, in a forward looking, progressive action, moved to permit the sale of marijuana in the City. (To the amazement of many in the community, the World did not end!)  Certainly they were aware in doing so, that people are going to consume the products that they buy. So it really makes little sense not to allow a license or licenses for designated consumption establishments, thereby filling a huge gap, that could possibly convince a few people to stick around for awhile.

To the Council we would say: "Do it for the sake of the economy."

Editorial Commentary by DCNews Online Editor, Dave Lee

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