Provisioning center is recommended by Sands Planning Commission

Facility would be along M-553

MARQUETTE — The Sands Township Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously recommended the township board approve a marijuana provisioning center at 300 State Highway M-553.

The recommendation came after the commission held a public hearing on a request by Debra Hrelja to open the Cannabis Lupus Cafe, which would be accessed off Marquette County Road 480.

The recommendation stipulated the provisioning center must comply with Michigan laws as well as local ordinances and laws, plus install downward-facing lighting on the facility’s rear door.

Township Zoning Administrator Randall Yelle said the township board already had “opted in” for marijuana businesses, with four provisioning centers allowed on commercially zoned property in the township.

“We intend to run this commercial facility at the absolute letter of the law, and we have very rigorous compliance and security protocols that we have to follow,” Hrelja said, “and we intend to follow those absolutely as written.”

At the public hearing, several people expressed their opposition to the facility, including James Ledford, who owns a nearby building and is a new planning commissioner, although he wasn’t allowed to vote yet at Thursday’s meeting.

“I’m completely against it,” said Ledford, who noted he has performed a lot of research on the issue. “I’m looking out for the safety of the public, driving on the road. To me, that’s important.”

Other people expressed concerns such as the effect it would have on youngsters in the area, housing values and the neighborhood.

Hrelja stressed areas of the provisioning center with product or product receipt would have video surveillance, plus there would be exterior security cameras and floodlights from dusk to dawn.

“We are required to have security doors in and out of the facility, in and out of where the product is being sold,” she said. “There will be somebody on staff in the entryway with the waiting room.”

That waiting room, Hrelja said, would be separate from where the product would be sold.

Michigan voters on Nov. 6, 2018 approved Proposal 1, creating the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. The act delegates responsibility for the licensing, regulation and enforcement to the Michigan Department of Regulatory Affairs whose Marijuana Regulatory Agency is responsible for the oversight of medical and adult-use, or recreational, marijuana in the state.

Hrelja said recreational marijuana would be sold at the Cannabis Lupus Cafe, and permits must be obtained for this activity.

She noted Michigan just began taking applications for recreational marijuana business applications on Nov. 1.

“Potential sales are several months down the road at this point because it’s about a 90-day turnaround,” Hrelja said.

The name of the cafe, she said, represents only the “decor and the ambiance” of the facility, and cannabis consumption wouldn’t be allowed on site.

Hrelja said marijuana, called “flower,” would be sold as well as prepackaged edibles processed within Michigan.

“Everything that we get has to be from the state of Michigan, and mostly downstate,” she said, “but we’ll have other products that are on the medicinal side that are topical, transdermal, sublingual — and a variety of processed marijuana products such as wax and shatter, which are a processed derivative of the leaf that you can inhale.”

Commission Chairman Shelley Brauer asked what would happen if a customer dropped product outside the facility, which could “get into the wrong hands.”

Hrelja said the business practice would include a clean sweep every evening of the interior and exterior.

She expects four employees will work at the Cannabis Lupus Cafe initially, with the facility to be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. However, she said the facility might close earlier on Sundays.

Hrelja also said cannabis waste would be composted to render it unusable. Yelle noted the Marquette County Landfill is able to accept this type of waste.

The Sands Township Board is expected to take up the issue at 7 p.m. Dec. 10.

Also, the planning commission at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday will consider a request from Lucas Siebert, Flow Provisioning LLC, for a marijuana provisioning center at 918 Marquette County Road 480.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.