OWOSSO — Four medical marijuana provisioning centers are in the process of setting up businesses in the city following their selection in a June 13 lottery drawing.
As part of the lottery process, 110 applicants submitted site plans that include the building where they plan to open provisioning centers. The city chose four to move ahead.
The lottery winners and their locations include Lume Cannabis Company, 116 N. Washington St.., Jars Holding LLC, 901 W. Main St., GH Processing LLC, 1115 Corunna Ave., and NX Meds, LLC at 300 W. Main St.
Each applicant is in a different stage of development. Previously, City Manager Nathan Henne said each location would require significant investment to increase security and prevent marijuana odors.
Here’s a look at where things stand for each project.
Lume Cannabis Company
116 N. Washington St.
Owner: Adam Saj
Located in the heart of downtown, the storefront has sat vacant for several years. Most recently, it was a hobby shop and, before that, Aldrich Art & Supply.
Lume Cannabis Company operates several different medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state, including in Kalamazoo and Evart.
“We pride ourselves on providing a superior customer experience that begins with treating every patient with respect,” said Jeff Gregory, chief marketing officer with Lume Cannabis Company. “Each patient has unique needs, and we have designed our retail experience to make it easy for them to identify the best product that will provide the experience they are looking for, with the help of our team of customer service specialists.
“We are currently working on plans that will ensure the façade of our retail store at 116 N. Washington St. will fit seamlessly with the historic, town square feel of downtown Owosso,” he added.
He said the company will work with the city to ensure the facade matches Owosso’s historic downtown look.
Currently, construction crews are working inside the building.
Steve Jodway, an employee at Funny Pages, across the street, said he said he has no problem with a provisioning center downtown as long as it’s done respectfully.
“My personal stance and not representative of the company is that if it creates revenue for the city and it is done in a respectful manner so that it’s not tarnishing the city in any way then I’m all for it,” Jodway said.
Jars Holding LLC
901 W. Main St.
Owner: Hanni Kassab
Kassab operates a number of provisioning centers in the Metro Detroit area, and in Flint.
This future provisioning center will locate in what once was a market. Jason Albro has been contracted by Kassab to complete renovations to the building. He said he and his crew are currently working on a complete renovation of the building.
Currently, the building is stripped down to the wall studs on the inside and work is underway.
1115 Corunna Ave.
Owner: David Pleitner
The center is located in a retail space on Corunna Avenue that until recently was the site of Larry’s Gunsmithing. The gun shop closed after its owner was charged with Social Security fraud.
Pleitner, a small business owner with other provisioning centers around the state including Bay City is renting the property from Cannabis Property Brokers, a commercial property management firm that focuses on cannabis-related properties.
Jeff Yatooma is a broker for Cannabis Property Brokers is the owner of the building, he recently closed on the sale of the building. There doesn’t appear to be any construction at this time.
Yatooma said he is planning a complete remodel of the building.
“We’re going to be taking it down to the studs and investing a lot of money in it,” he said.
Yatooma said construction should begin by the end of the year and the dispensary should be open be open in the first quarter of next year.
The building is standalone and the nearest business is a barbershop up the road.
Owner: Nemer Haddad
Haddad is from the Metro Detroit area and also operates medical marijuana provisioning centers in that area, and in the Traverse City area. He said Owosso was a perfect location in between the two other sites for business purposes.
“I’m actually familiar with Owosso. When my kids were younger I would bring them up to see the Polar Express at the Steam Railroading Institute during winter. It’s a really great area and I’m excited to be joining the community,” Haddad said.
Plans had called for the dispensary to locate in the Matthews Building, but after plans for a provisioning center at the Matthews building fell through, Haddad and the city struck a deal to move the provisioning center to a different building and he promised to either rehabilitate or demolish the Matthews Building.
The financing package the previous owner had worked out with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to assist in redeveloping the building can’t move forward if a marijuana-related business is involved.
Now that Haddad has worked out a plan for the Matthews building and has an agreement with the city he is in the process of finding another location. On Monday, he said that he was interested in the O-Town Cafe building and a few others in town.
How we got to this point
In June, city officials revealed they received 110 applications to obtain one of just four medical marijuana provisioning center licenses it plans to award.
At the council’s April 15 meeting, members set a 30-day window from May 1 to May 30 for people to submit applications for medical marijuana provisioning center licenses — 90 applications were filed on the final day.
The 110 applicants proposed 33 different locations for the potential dispensaries.
“Four (licenses) was what the planning commission recommended to the city council and after one year that number will be evaluated so if we want to add more we can,” City Manager Nathan Henne said.
One qualification for entering the lottery was having pre-approval from the state of Michigan for a medical marijuana facility provisioning center.
Now that the applicants have municipal approval from Owosso in hand, they are going through the full approval process with the state.
“It’s pretty easy to get pre-approval from the state. They haven’t even begun to go through the full approval process yet. The application with the city is nowhere near the end of the process they still have a long way to go with the state,” Henne said.
The city has not determined what to do if one of the four applicants that win the lottery is not able to gain full approval from the state.
“We’ll cross that bridge if and when the time comes,” Henne said.
The city charged the maximum amount allowable under the law for the applications, $5,000. He said those who do not receive licenses will receive half of their application fee back.
He expects the application process to generate about $285,000 for the city.
Each applicant was only allowed to apply for one provisioning center license to prevent them from monopolizing the market.
Licensing at the state level is handled by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
LARA has created guidelines for who can apply. Among other things, to apply for a provisioning center license at the state level an applicant has to be 21, a non-felon and have demonstrated the financial capability of starting and maintaining the business.
The pre-approval process includes a background check of the applicant and all investors.
Besides showing the city that they had pre-approval from the state, applicants also had to submit a security plan, floor plan, storage plan, and an odor management plan.
“A lot of them included some pretty interesting air circulating technology to reduce odors to the surrounding areas,” Henne said.
The four applicants that won the lottery will have to follow zoning guidelines set forward by the city.
The city’s lottery process was delayed last year while officials determined zoning ordinances for marijuana establishments.
At its March 18 meeting, the Owosso city council set the parameters for where a marijuana provisioning center can be located.
The guidelines are that a provisioning center:
n May not be located within 200 feet of the real property comprising or used by a public or private elementary, vocational or secondary school.
n May not be located within 100 feet of a residentially zoned structure.
n May not be located within 100 feet of a vacant residentially zoned parcel.
The applications and lottery are for medical marijuana facilities. Recreational marijuana businesses remain under a moratorium while the city awaits state rules for such operations.