Village of Kalkaska Encouraging Budding Marijuana Industry

One Northern Michigan town is betting big on marijuana business.

The Village of Kalkaska says recreational and medical marijuana sales could be a renaissance for their local economy.

Already, village president Harley Wales says their budding industry has taken the town out of more than $2 million in debt.

Now, the village is seeing green and says revenues from facility inspections, taxes and licenses could add up to more than $100 million in the next four years.

Monies from inspections alone could afford multiple full-time police officers dedicated to the village.

“There’s a 40,000 square foot site plan coming up next week, [and] that’s an $8,000 inspection, four times a year, so that’s half a cop right there,” said President Wales. “We want to increase the police force. I put out a promise for 24 hour patrols in the village.”

President Wales says the village is currently evaluating more than 14 site plans for new facilities in town.

This week, the village council voted to allow more marijuana provisioning permits and they also decided to decrease the number of permitted storefronts. Now, the village will have 16 marijuana provisioning permits across eight different storefronts.

“I thought, there’s a way to increase the amount of licenses but allow for both the medical and recreational to dwell in the same unit,” said President Wales. “So overall, the storefronts were actually reduced by two.”

Longtime Kalkaska homeowners like Don Santo say this could be the boost the village needs.

“It’s got to be so much revenue. They’re trying to get money for roads,” said Santo. “I think it would be a tremendous help for the economy.”

Andrew Nygren works in his family’s restaurant, B&B Express, and says he personally opposes marijuana but would be happy to see the product bring more traffic into town.

“It’s kind of like opening a bar in town and a bunch of people come in. I’m not real proud of that, but if they come in, that’s great,” said Nygren. “If it brings people in, great, but I don’t support marijuana.”

President Wales says he’s been very careful about the industry’s growth, but says the impact could be far reaching across the community.

“The best way to handle it, is to manage it. And make sure you’re doing it right. We’re doing it right, and we’re going to benefit from it,” said Wales.