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Business of marijuana

Ishpeming City Council to revisit issue

Craig Cugini, city manager, city of Ishpeming

ISHPEMING — The Ishpeming City Council will revisit whether to allow marijuana businesses.

The council voted unanimously during its regular meeting on Feb. 5 to direct Ishpeming City Manager Craig Cugini to conduct research and look at the pros and cons of medical and/or recreational marijuana businesses within the city.

City Councilman Pat Scanlon, who first made a motion to table the subject for 90 days, said he felt there was a lack of support by the council and other city officials.

“We don’t have council people, that I am aware of, that are ready to do anything,” Scanlon said. “The planning commission recommended ‘no.’ And it would give our manager, you know, a couple of months to get up to speed on where we are at.”

In December 2018, the Ishpeming City Council enacted an emergency ordinance prohibiting recreational marijuana businesses within city boundaries following the passage of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act approved by state voters on Nov. 6 of that year.

Councilmembers Lindsay Bean and Jason Chapman spoke in support of at least investigating the implications of having such businesses within the city.

Both visited the Fire Station, the only recreational marijuana retail business in the county, to get more information on how such an establishment might be operated.

“I thought I would just pass this along, in case you weren’t going to stop in there yourself and see what it looks like. It was impressively clean and professional inside. I talked with the owners for a substantial amount of time,” Bean said. “I was very much impressed with this, with their input on how it might work. And now that we’ve got some time to know how it might work, should we decide to go this route, we will have an example and some information that we could draw from.”

Chapman said while he voted in favor of the referendum in 2016 for various reasons, he has not decided whether a marijuana business would be good for the city.

“I haven’t necessarily seen the pros and cons. I definitely believe we owe the voters that as well because I believe of the people who voted in Ishpeming, the majority voted (in favor of the ballot proposal),” Chapman said. “I think we need to look at the pros and cons of medicinal, recreational, grow operations, because that is what would be fair to do for the city at this point.”

Cugini said his background working for the U.S. Armed Forces may have colored his opinion on the subject.

“So my background is I am a zero-tolerance guy. I worked for the federal government, the federal government has a different law than any of the states — all 50 of them. I have grown up in the environment for the past 26 years that it is not OK. I am willing to support my position and support the council in what it is you want,” Cugini said. “The question now is, should we look at amending that if it has enough positive benefit for the city in the realm of revenue generation. I think I have enough (direction from the council) to generate some analysis.”

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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