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Higher Love dispensary opens in Crystal Falls

Lindsay Martwick, left, stands with Joni Moore outside Higher Love, a medical marijuana provisioning center and adult use dispensary in Crystal Falls. Martwick is the regional general manager, overseeing baseline operations for all store locations, while Moore is president of Higher Love and its growing arm Ottawa Innovations. Higher Love opened in Crystal Falls on Feb. 8, with subsequent stores opening in Marquette and Munising. A fourth store is set to open in Portage Township. (Brian Christensen/Daily News photo)

CRYSTAL FALLS — The owner and manager of a marijuana dispensary that opened in February say they hold the business to high standards.

Higher Love is a medical marijuana provisioning center and adult use dispensary at 116 Superior Ave. in Crystal Falls, the first of a number of Higher Love locations planned in the Upper Peninsula.

Joni Moore, president of Higher Love and growing company Ottawa Innovations, has a baccalaureate degree in botany from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a master’s degree in forestry from Michigan Technological University in Houghton.

“My passion has always been studying plants and also learning about health and wellness,” Moore said.

Moore founded Ottawa Innovations in 2018 while working as a manager, budtender and caregiver at a Houghton marijuana dispensary.

With her own growing facility in Humboldt Township in Marquette County, opening a retail storefront was not just a practical decision but a natural one.

“What I loved the most about working in the dispensary and being a caregiver for my own patients was helping people choose the medicine that was best for them,” Moore said. “It makes it full circle.”

Though Michigan voters in 2018 approved adult use marijuana sales, Moore said the power to allow retail establishments rested within individual communities.

“The first thing about opening a store is finding a community that accepts you, and Crystal Falls has been amazing,” Moore said. “They’ve welcomed us with open arms.”

Higher Love opened Feb. 8. Other stores have since been added in Marquette and Munising and a fourth is set to open in Portage Township in Houghton County.

The Crystal Falls location had in the past been a supper club and a church but required little renovation to suit Higher Love’s needs, said Lindsay Martwick, regional general manager.

The location, as well as each subsequent store, has staff from within the community.

“We love that we’ve been able to provide an employment opportunity for a lot of the local folks in these towns,” Martwick said.

Martwick, who oversees baseline operations in each of the stores, said a central tenet of the company was “plant medicine.”

Moore agreed, adding while most of Higher Love’s sales were adult use, she believed it’s about more than just “getting high.”

“The term ‘recreational’ doesn’t mean anything to me,” Moore said.

Moore considers cannabis a “plant ally,” describing the way it interacts with human physiology as “amazing.”

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, researchers exploring THC — the primary psychoactive component in cannabis — identified the endocannabinoid system in the human body.

Comprised of receptors, enzymes and the fatty endocannabinoid molecule, scientists believe the ECS aids in numerous functions, including movement, memory, emotion and pain modulation.

“We produce endocannabinoids in the body naturally,” Moore said. “Cannabis produces those same compounds in its body. It’s amazing to me that they fit together like a key in a lock.”

She added, “We don’t even understand how that ever came about.”

Ottawa Innovations’ plants are grown using organic methods, which Moore says gives them robust cannabinoid profiles as well as richer terpenes — compounds responsible for the characteristic flavors and scents.

“Our organic style of growing allows the plant to express these qualities to the highest,” Moore said.

Moore estimated 50 to 60% of the buds sold in Higher Love stores was grown in the Ottawa Innovations facility, the rest provided by other high-quality vendors.

Because the marijuana industry is highly regulated, Ottawa Innovations has to meet strict safety and security standards. The state requires all crops be tested by an independent lab for microbial contaminants, heavy metals and pesticides, among other things, , Moore said.

The public response to Higher Love’s products has been positive, Moore and Martwick said.

“We have fantastic customers who I think are attracted to our mission,” Moore said. “They understand just from the name of the company, Higher Love, that they’re getting a product that’s grown with love and dispensed with love.”

“They are thrilled with the amount of flower varieties we provide as options to them, both our own flowers as well as flowers from other vendors,” Martwick said.

Higher Love offers a variety of cannabis flowers, trim, edibles, vaping cartridges, concentrates, topicals and tinctures.

Martwick added that Higher Love also considers customer suggestions for new stock.

“We love the suggestions and make a point to cater to the community as best as we possibly can while still keeping some great staple items on the shelves,” Martwick said.

Brian Christensen can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 229, or bchristensen@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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