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Companies submit renderings for proposed medical marijuana shops

Courtesy Images Renderings submitted recently to the Alpena Planning Commission of two medical marijuana shops expected to open in Alpena are shown. The former Thunder Bay Restaurant on Chisholm Street will undergo a reconstruction to become The Green Buddha (below), and Lume Cannabis Company (above) will build a new building across from the Cracker Barrel party store.

ALPENA–The two companies that intend to open medical marijuana provisioning centers in Alpena have submitted renderings of what the new businesses in the city may look like when built.

Last year, the Alpena Municipal Council selected the applications from Green Buddha and Lume Cannabis Company to be the first medical marijuana retailers in the city.

The Green Buddha is going to completely renovate the former Thunder Bay Restaurant near the bridge on Chisholm Street on the Thunder Bay River.

Lume is going to build a facility from the ground up on the vacant property across from the Cracker Barrel party store.

The city intends to review its current medical marijuana ordinance in the near future.

Mayor Matt Waligora said while the city was creating the ordinance, he visited many provisioning centers around the state.

Waligora said what he saw gave him confidence the proposals in Alpena would be solid.

“Having experienced site visits in other communities, I am not surprised with the quality building plans presented in Alpena,” he said. “I do appreciate the local level of professionalism and aesthetics just the same.”

Alpena Municipal Councilman Mike Nowak said he is pleased with the way the proposed shops fit with what the council envisioned when it selected the two companies. He said he is pleased that people who need the drug for medical reasons can acquire it locally.

“I think the facilities we chose have a good handle on security, safety, and how to pass along the product to customers,” Nowak said. “They look like quality companies who are going to have very quality establishments.”

After the city selected the two businesses, there were a pair of appeals from companies who believed their applications were scored inaccurately. One applicant, Neighborhood Provisions, Currier, LLC, filed a lawsuit against the city, but later dropped it.

Waligora said a lot of work went into the ordinance, but now that the city has gone through the application process from start to finish, he said it is a good time to review it and make any needed tweaks.

Council has a medical marijuana workshop scheduled for its regular meeting on March 1, beginning at 6 p.m.

Both Lume and Green Buddha sell recreational marijuana at other locations, but will be unable to do so in Alpena, as the city utilized its opt-out option after Prop. 1 passed in 2018. The topic of recreational marijuana, and its future in the city, could be considered at some point.

Waligora said he would like to see the topic discussed sooner rather than later.

“Some council members have requested a let’s wait and see period prior to discussing our options for adult use sales,” Waligora said. “I can respect that to a certain extent, but I expect it will be sooner than the time leading up to the medical marijuana discussions.”

Nowak, who voted yes for the sale of medical marijuana in the city, said he did so because he heard from a lot of his constituents who wanted it available to those who need it.

He said he will take the same approach when, and if, discussions about recreational marijuana take place.

Currently the federal government has marijuana classified as a Schedule-1 narcotic. A Schedule 1 drug is described as a narcotic drug with no known acceptable medical use that carries a high abuse potential, such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

Schedule 2 drugs include morphine, PCP, and cocaine and are considered less addictive and have some restricted medical uses.

“I do feel the discussion will come back up, and it will be up to the citizens to let us know what direction they want us to go with it,” Nowak said.

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