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Lawsuit over cannabis license applications dropped

An applicant who was denied a medical marijuana license to open a provisioning center in Alpena and sued the city afterward, has dropped their lawsuit.

A court document obtained by The News shows 26th Circuit Court Judge Ed Black dismissed the case on Jan. 26, after the attorneys for the parties requested all claims made by the plaintiff be withdrawn, without cost or fees.

Bob Currier, of Neighborhood Provisions, Currier LLC, and Katherine Schultz, a personal friend of the Currier family, filed the lawsuit in late December, against City Manager Rachel Smolinski, former Building Official Don Gilmet, and Northeast Michigan Council of Governments Deputy Director Denise Cline, all of whom were involved in the application scoring.

The plaintiff believed the scoring was inaccurate and led to a license being denied.

According to court documents, the Curriers believe the city may have played favorites and allowed preferred companies to skirt the rules. Not only were a pair of payments accepted after applications were received, but one of the applicants was allowed more time for an appeal than what the ordinance demands, the lawsuit alleges.

It also claimed the city violated the Open Meetings Act while reviewing and scoring the applications.

All of those allegations now fall to the wayside.

In a text message statement, Bob Currier said he is glad to put the issue to rest because he loves the city where he lives and works. He said he intends to work with the city to try to expand marijuana businesses in the future, and open a shop one day.

“Alpena is our home and we plan to continue to create opportunities for our community. Our family has always been interwoven with this town that we love, and we want to see it thrive,” Currier said. “While we are disappointed with the outcome of our challenge to the medical marijuana process, we are still persisting and (are) determined to have a place here, where we live. We will of course advocate for a dispensary license, and to have the city allow adult- use, recreational licensing that allows the city to collect tax revenue. That is something that can’t be done with only medical dispensaries.”

When the city passed a medical marijuana ordinance last year, it limited the amount of medical marijuana provisioning centers at two.

The city has not acted on recreational marijuana yet.

The city selected Lume Cannabis, of Troy, who intends to construct a facility on vacant property on Chisholm Street, across from the Cracker Barrel Party Store, and Green Buddha, of Ferndale, which plans to renovate the former Thunder Bay River Restaurant, also on Chisholm Street.

The applicants are now required to submit site plans for special land use to the city planning commission and apply for building permits. As of Wednesday, there has been no new construction at either site.

Alpena Mayor Matt Waligora issued a brief statement on behalf of the city.

“The Curriers have been kind and professional throughout this process,” Waligora said. “I wish them all of the best.”

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