By Sara Powers

NILES TOWNSHIP, Michigan (WBND-LD) — M.D. Patterson has been collecting signatures now for three weeks, for a ballot referendum to bring cannabis dispensaries into Niles Township.

“It’s a no-brainer to do it, and I wanted to get it done, so I just acted as a lone wolf, ha ha!” Patterson laughed.

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Niles Township board members elected to opt-out of Michigan’s program to allow dispensaries to set up shop within the township limits, whereas neighboring towns like Buchanan and Niles have allowed dispensaries, and have received over $450-thousand combined from excise taxes, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Patterson believes that kind of money could be used to help reinvigorate the township.

“We’re blighted here,” she said. “I’ve been the business owner of Doggie Drive Thru for thirty-three years and I’ve yet to see roads being in good shape. There’s a lot of problems and this is a way to get serious money, just by issuing a license that you get five-to-ten-thousand dollars for.”

Patterson told me she’s spent $10-thousand of her own money to draft up an ordinance– allowing a minimum of four dispensaries to set up, saying that shops like Re-Leaf and Primitiv have both expressed interest in expanding into the township, by purchasing vacant or for-sale properties, possibly including her own business, the Doggie Drive-Thru.

What she needs now are signatures to approve the referendum.

“My goal is four-hundred signatures,” she said. “I have to have a minimum of two-hundred and fifty to get certified and get it on the ballot.”

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Patterson told me she has nearly one-hundred signatures– and gained three during our interview alone. She also has petitions set up at neighboring businesses like Birds Eye View and Bertrand Automotive.

She has until August 2 to get the minimum needed.

“I just really could use some signatures,” she said. “Stop, day or night, and sign up.”

The Niles Township Board was not available to comment.

If Patterson gets enough signatures– the vote to bring cannabis to Niles Township will be November 8.

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