Mid-Michigan preparing for licensing of medical marihuana facilities

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BANGOR TOWNSHIP, Michigan (11/06/2017) UPDATE A new industry, which brings with it the promise of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue, has attracted investors to Mid Michigan.

In just six short weeks, the state will begin accepting applications for the licensing of medical marihuana facilities.

If we look at Bay County, where there's been a lot of interest, Pinconning Township was the first to begin accepting applications for medical marihuana facilities, followed by Bangor Township.

Those with local permits will still have to be licensed by the state, however, which is racing to put all the rules in place to regulate a new industry that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Like it, or leave it, medical marihuana facilities are about to be legally licensed by the state.

Sensing an opportunity at hand, Bangor Township Supervisor Glenn Rowley says they faced three options:

"We can either lead, we can follow, or we can just get out of the way."

Rowley says they chose to lead, recently approving 33 permits in just one day to applicants who want to be a part of the new industry.

"We are excited to hopefully call Bangor Township our home base," said Paul Weisberger, Vice President of Oasis Wellness Center.

On October 24, 2017, Oasis Wellness Center applied for permits for 9 large grow operations and 2 processing centers at the site of the former Dow Chemical Company building on East Wilder Road.

"We hope to use our facility to grow high quality low cost product for the patients," said Weisberger.

The Oasis Wellness Center also plans on creating a statewide provisioning center network, including a location in Bangor Township.

Weisberger says they hope to hire 150-to-180 people between all of their facilities in town.

They're not the only one with big plans for Bangor Township.

"You guys are really accessible answering questions, and things like that makes it much easier to get comfortable to make a large investment," said Chris Yatooma with the Coeus Group out of Oakland County.

An investment in the millions as the Coeus Group looks at building on a 25-acres tract of land that will eventually be home to a medical marihuana facility, complete with a large grow operation , two processing centers and a secure transporter.

"We're going to do a new build...that will hopefully employ close to 200 people," said Denise Pollicella, a managing partner for Cannabis Attorney's of Michigan who is representing the Coeus Group.

So just how lucrative is this business?

"It's anecdotal," said Pollicella, "but people are thinking you can make ten million dollars on one class C Grow licenses a year. That's gross... even is you made two to three million dollars a year per license, you're talking quite a bit of revenue."

She told us her client applied for 10 class C Grow licenses with Bangor Township.

Investors have also been granted permits for provisioning centers, better known as 'dispensaries', that will replace many empty storefronts in town.

The Township stands to gain financially as well. In addition to the five- thousand dollar application fee for every permit issued, the Township will collect part of the 3% tax charged on sales statewide.

"The Bay Area has seen the most explosive growth area in the state, " said Pollicella," it is positioned to be the epicenter of marihuana production in Michigan."

Before that can happen, the state still needs to license all those who have been granted permits by the Township.

They begin accepting applications December 15th. Andrew Brisbo , the Director of the new Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation says they'll be ready:

"Fingerprint background checks will be run through the state police and FBI, the statute has certain across-the-board disqualifications for certain convictions, and there's also that standard of good moral character that we'll evaluate as well," Brisbo said.

Licenses will be granted by the spring. It will take months to get everything up-and-running.

Just last week the state bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs announced it will allow medical marihuana dispensaries to remain open while seeking a state license.

That decision that came as no surprise to Benjamin Horner, the owner of Michigan Organic Solutions in Flint, who worries about the little guy getting squeezed out.

"There's enough room in the market place for everyone," he said, "but there are efforts for a monopoly to come in and get as much of the market share as possible."

Despite that threat, Horner says he plans to stay open to service customers while applying for licensing from the state.

"It's going to take six months for the cannabis that's produced through the new licensing to be able to to be available for patients to use," said Horner. "You don't want to interrupt people's medicine supply."

In the meantime Bangor Township says it will continue to vette applications for permits for medical marihuana facilities until they hit 125.

We asked Bangor Township Supervisor Glenn Rowley how they arrived at that number.

"Honestly we were making it up as we went based upon our population size," Rowley said.

As to his hopes for the new industry bringing new jobs and revenue to the area Rowley added, " "When was the last time we saw a reversal of our fortunes where people are moving in , instead of moving out," he said. I would like to see us become the destination for the U Haul trucks".

As of Monday Rowley says he's received another 19 applications for permits.

As for licensing from the state, the application fee will cost an upwards of $8,000 and regulatory fees will top out at $57,000.00 per facility so this is not a cheap endeavor.

We’re just six weeks away from the state of Michigan licensing medical marihuana facilities for the very first time.

As this new industry gets under way, who’s in, who’s out, and what do townships hope to gain by rolling out the welcome mat?

We’ll explain coming up tonight on ABC 12 News at 11 p.m.

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