HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – A medical marijuana growth facility is proposed for the Copper Country Mall. Portage Township prepares to discuss the proposal next week. Portage Caregiver Center wants to expand to the Copper Country Mall's empty JC Penny space. According to the LLC's registered agent, Tyler Ross, the facility would also include local and downstate sales, extraction and processing.
"We don't hear a lot of negativity about these places coming into the area because everybody that comes here kind of understands that it is good for the community," said Penny Milkey, co-owner of Northern Specialty Health, a medical marijuana care center in Houghton.
This comes as many medical marijuana centers face forced shutdown December 15.
"Medical marijuana helps a lot of people and if they don't have access to it, I am afraid they are going to use things that are not good for them, like prescription pills or alcohol," said Milkey.
Recent state legislation requires townships and cities to opt-in to allow marijuana sales. The township estimates 1600 medical marijuana card carriers in Houghton County. 400 of those live within Portage Township.
"We're mandated and required to look at the health safety and wellbeing of the public, and if this is a legal endeavor and it assists people with various symptoms then we're sort of obliged to provide means that these people can obtain this legal substance," said Portage Township supervisor Bruce Peterson.
If the township opts-in, the care center faces a several month shut-down while waiting for state licensing. Other centers under local ordinance, like Northern Specialty Health, will close in February if their cities do not opt-in.
"People are mostly concerned that they are not going to have access, I think. We hear mostly from patients that are afraid they are not going to have someplace to get their medicine from," said Milkey.
Portage Township discusses their decision whether or not to opt-in during their meeting Monday, December 11.