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Pot revenue remains unclear

Officials still unsure how much state money might come from new pot store

News File Photo Meds Cafe owner Scott Schroeder measures some marijuana before opening for business last April.

ROGERS CITY — Officials in Rogers Township do not know how much money the township might receive from a recreational marijuana store that opened last week.

“It depends on how much money is generated statewide by that, and then it comes back to us based on the number of facilities that we have, which at this point is one,” Supervisor Randy Smolinski said Monday. “So, it’s hard to extrapolate at any point because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next year.”

Meds Cafe, the first medical marijuana dispensary to open in Northeast Michigan, began selling recreational marijuana on Jan. 7 after receiving its state license in late December. The business is located at 2325 U.S.-23 S., just south of Rogers City.

The state collects a 6% sales tax and 10% excise tax on the sale of recreational marijuana.

The state will collect the first $20 million from recreational marijuana sales to disburse for clinical trials over the next two years, according to David Harns, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Another $10 million will be added to the state’s general fund, which Harns says will be used to pay back a loan used to get the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency up and running.

Of the remaining funds, 35% will go to schools, 35% to roads agencies, 15% to counties, and 15% to local municipalities that allow recreational marijuana stores within their borders.

“We’re anticipating that it would generate a total of $97.5 million” statewide this fiscal year, said David Zin, chief economist with the state Senate Fiscal Agency.

Zin said the projected distribution of funds is estimated at $10.1 million to counties and $10.1 million to local municipalities. It wasn’t immediately clear how many municipalities allow recreational marijuana to be sold in their community.

Smolinski, the Rogers Township supervisor, said any funding received from the state would go into the township’s general fund, but funding from fees as part of the local marijuana shop permitting process is set aside in a separate line item for administrative purposes. The township charges an application fee and $5,000 for each recreational marijuana establishment permit.

While receiving money from the state is one factor in allowing marijuana sales in the township, Smolinski said, employment opportunities and additional property tax revenues were also factors.

Rogers Township officials recently agreed to allow recreational marijuana retail stores, but only to those who already have a medical marijuana license in the township. Smolinski said it is also possible for a caregiver “under the old medical marijuana laws” to obtain a medical marijuana permit, and if successful, could then apply for an adult use establishment permit.

Rogers Township will not allow marijuana bars, festivals, or microbusinesses, but will allow an unlimited number of secure transporter and safety compliance permits.

Elsewhere in Northeast Michigan, Onaway also recently agreed to allow a recreational marijuana microbusiness within its industrial park. City officials in July heard from Bernie and Ben Kolasa, who are interested in starting a microbusiness.

City Manager Kelly Stockwell said the Kolasas have yet to file an application. The Onaway City Commission ultimately agreed to allow two microbusinesses in its industrial park.

Presque Isle County Building and Zoning Official Mike Libby said he doesn’t know how much funding the county would get from recreational marijuana, and county officials have yet to discuss what they would do with that funding.

The Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners amended the county’s zoning ordinance to allow retail locations and microbusinesses in the county’s business, agricultural and manufacturing districts. Recreational marijuana can also be grown, processed, transported and tested in the county within its agricultural and manufacturing districts.

That ordinance only applies to townships that utilize the county’s zoning and where township officials decide to allow facilities in their jurisdiction. Townships affected include Bearinger, Belknap, Bismark, Case, Metz, Moltke, North Allis, Ocqueoc, Posen, Pulawski and Rogers townships.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.