Number of medical marijuana dispensaries shrinking
The State of Michigan has shut down 208 medical marijuana businesses down state. The businesses did not submit licensing applications by the state deadline. 215 medical marijuana dispensaries remain open in Michigan. Of those, only one is left in the Western U.P.
The Noggin Shop here in Hubbell was one of the few remaining medical marijuana dispensaries in the Western U.P. However, they have stopped sale of cannabis. Hooked on Ponics remains open at that location.
Northern Specialty Health in Houghton is still open, but facing daily struggles.
"Being a small business owner is very difficult, especially in this industry. It is a constant battle and we have to jump through lots of hoops just to be here for the patients. If we are not here the patients aren't going to have anywhere to go," said co-owner Penny Milkey.
The City of Houghton submitted their part of Northern Specialty Health’s license application. The city does not guarantee the new ordinance will allow the business to remain open.
"Now the city is, through our master planning process and the meetings we are going to be having -- public meetings -- one thing we are going to be working on is finding out where we want to go as a community as far as medical marijuana, because people can write ordinances, but really we've got to look at what is best for the community," said city manager Eric Waara.
Licensing and ordinances are just two of many challenges the dispensary faces.
"I don't want to call it discrimination but we do face discrimination being in this business because some people think of cannabis as not a medicine whereas we consider it a medicine. Because medical marijuana is scheduled as a schedule one federally, banks will not allow us to have a business banking account. So that is one thing, for being a small business owner, it makes it very hard to not have access to a checking or savings account," said Milkey.
The Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board meets April 19 to consider more license applications. Northern Specialty Health is still awaiting state licensing approval.