IM may add medical marijuana licenses

IRON MOUNTAIN — Additional licenses will be awarded for growing and processing medical marijuana under an ordinance change proposed Monday by Iron Mountain City Council.

The council is trying to accommodate potential local investors, but it remains to be seen whether those businesses will follow through if they can’t operate dispensaries.

Two weeks ago, the council issued provisional licenses to two downstate businesses for growing, processing and selling medical marijuana with the expectation those same applicants may qualify for recreational facility licenses in the months ahead.

Three local applicants filed appeals with the council but were unable to raise their scores enough to qualify for the permits, which were capped at two.

After an hour-long discussion Monday, the council agreed to consider an amendment to allow up to three more medical marijuana facilities but for growing and processing only.

“If they’re willing to invest, I don’t see why we can’t grant the licenses,” council member Juan Saldana said.

City attorney Gerald Pirkola will draft an ordinance amendment for consideration at the council’s Oct. 21 meeting. If approved, a public hearing must be scheduled before it’s adopted.

The license expansion would open the door for proposed facilities on the 100 block of East Smith Street and on the 1500 and 1800 blocks of North Stephenson Avenue.

Council member Kyle Blomquist noted the proposed investment for those facilities is far below the commitment from Macomb-based RIZE, which plans a $5 million investment and 60 to 90 jobs, and Attitude Wellness of Evart, whose promise is $2.18 million and 20 jobs.

By allowing more licenses for processing and growing, the council could protect the integrity of the larger facilities while still spurring more business activity, Blomquist said.

RIZE plans a facility at a now-vacant building at 1580 N. Stephenson Ave., about a quarter-mile south of Industrial Drive and North Lake Antoine Road.

Attitude Wellness intends to build a growing and processing facility on the west side of Hydraulic Falls Road between Stephenson Avenue and Breitung Cutoff Road. Its provisioning center would be at 117 and 119 S. Stephenson Ave., where structures would be rehabilitated.

Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency will begin accepting applications Nov. 1 for recreational adult-use facility licenses. Medical and recreational licenses are linked under current state rules, since only medical marijuana facilities can get recreational adult-use permits.

The Iron Mountain council also has approved an ordinance to allow and regulate recreational marijuana facilities. Once that ordinance takes effect in early November, there will be 45-day window for applications that will be judged under a scoring rubric still to be written.

The recreational licenses would be limited to two apiece for growing, processing and provisioning, but that ordinance also could be amended.

Under its medical marijuana ordinance change, Iron Mountain plans to permit “licensees,” as opposed to individual licenses, providing flexibility for growers in how they organize their operations. The state now issues three types of growing licenses. The number of plants at an individual site could range from less than 500 to as many as 4,500, depending on the licenses.