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City of Alpena makes its medical marijuana selections

ALPENA- This piece of vacant property on Chisholm Street in Alpena could become home to a medical marijuana provisioning center to be opened by Lume Cannabis. The City of Alpena staff also selected Green Buddah to potentially open one at the former Brett's Auto garage further down Chisholm Street.

ALPENA–The City of Alpena staff have selected a pair of medical marijuana applicants to recommend to the Alpena Municipal Council, which could allow them to open provisioning centers in the city.

A third applicant, Neighborhood Provisions, Currier LLC, which is from Alpena, has chosen to appeal the staff’s decision because it was not selected.

A special meeting of the council will be scheduled to hear and consider the appeal.

Lume Cannabis Company, of Troy, and Green Buddha Cannabis Company were chosen from six applicants vying to be the first two dispensaries allowed to open in Alpena.

Lume Cannabis intends to construct a facility on the vacant property on Chisholm Street, across from the Cracker Barrel Party Store, while Green Buddha plans on renovating the former Brett’s Auto, also on Chisholm Street.

City Manager Rachel Smolinski said a committee consisting of herself, Building Official Don Gilmet, and Northeast Michigan Council of Governments Planner Denise Cline scored the applications and narrowed the field for council consideration.

The applicants are now required to submit site plans for special land use to the planning commission and by applying for a building permit. The license application process must be completed within six months or the next best applicant will be given the opportunity to apply.

“I think this is a good opportunity to create more economic development in Alpena,” Smolinski said. “We will have a vacant lot developed and a new building constructed, and another old building renovated. That is good news.”

Neighborhood Provisions, which is owned by the family of Dr. Robert Currier of Alpena, is seeking an appeal to encourage council to take a second look at the application and double-check how it was scored.

Currier said he has had a long and positive relationship with the city and he added there is no animosity over not being selected, but he just wants to be sure all of the points were tallied accurately.

“First off, we are not accusing anyone of anything and we think the world of the people who work for the city, but we just want to be sure there weren’t any points overlooked,” he said. “The points we received were lower than anticipated and when we reviewed the application we believed they were there. We want to be sure the city sees the entirety of our application and just double-check things.”

Currier said he does have a location reserved for a provisioning center on Ripley Boulevard in the former Straley’s lighting store.

After months of planning, reworking zoning and establishing local regulations for medical marijuana, the council voted to allow for the sale of the drug, in the city.

After careful consideration, the council decided to not allow them to open in the downtown district.

Alpena Downtown Development Executive Director Anne Gentry said if the new facilities open customers would only have a short jaunt to downtown, which could increase foot traffic near small businesses.

“I would like to think that people would come and grab a bite to eat, have a cocktail, and visit our shops and galleries,” Gentry said.

Messages seeking comment were left with Lume Cannabis Company and Green Buddha.

After Prop.1, which made recreational marijuana use legal in Michigan, the city opted out of it and the sale of recreational marijuana is unlawful currently.

Gilmet said he wouldn’t be shocked if down the road the city reconsiders the move.

“I would imagine the council will wait to see how the medical marijuana works out and then maybe more on to reviewing the recreational,” Gilmet said. “I’m sure there are some on council who would be onboard with it, and others that would not. For all I know they may never allow it. That is all up to council, but I suspect they will want to see how things go with this first.”

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