Traverse City is inching closer to potential approval on more than a dozen recreational marijuana shops within the city limits.
As many as 16 recreational, or “adult use,” marijuana businesses could be online and open this spring, after they applied for permits with Traverse City by last summer’s deadline. Now that the city is reviewing hundreds of pages of documentation for each application and inspections are starting.
“I think that, you know, this is an industry that’s really excited to be in Traverse City,” Traverse City Clerk Benjamin Marentette says. “There’s a lot of vetting that goes into them. It’s one of the most extensive types of business use applications that the city deals with and so we indicated that if we didn’t have to go through a competitive scoring process, we’d be in position to issue licenses sometime around March of this year or March of 2023. I think that we’re on track.”
Traverse City is moving forward on the approval process. Marentette acknowledges it will take some time. “I mentioned that it’s an extensive application and I’m not exaggerating. There’s hundreds of pages with each of these applications. So right now we’re really in the phase of reviewing that documentation for all of these different applications to make sure that they’re in compliance.”
The city says all 12 of the current medical cannabis provisioning centers in the city have applied for recreational permits. But it’s still fewer than the initial cap the city put on total applications. “I’m pleased that we don’t have to go through that competitive scoring process because it will allow us to help these businesses open their doors sooner while also doing the city’s due diligence that we’re required to undertake,” he says.
Traverse City Police did their first inspection this week. The stopped at the .
“We had our first inspection with the Traverse City Police Department and everything went amazing. Passed with flying colors and so that will now be sent off to the state,” Manager Jon Handzlik says. “It is definitely a surprise visit. We usually go over all things store related. So surveillance, sales, operations, procedures, procedures, a little bit of everything. (They’re looking for) 100% compliance, you want to make sure that we know what we’re doing. We’re following the law.”
Lighthouse says the surprise inspection was a welcome one, it means progress is being made.
“It’s such a monumental relief. I think all of our staff have just been waiting for so long and trying and trying and trying to get here. And it’s now here and it’s – it’s amazing. This is a – it’s a great weight off of our shoulders to be able to move forward into the future with cannabis,” Handzlik says.
Lighthouse on Garfield is the first to have its Traverse City Police Department inspection. Others will follow in the weeks ahead. Then up next, the state inspection.
Marentette says, “there has to be regulation of industries like this. And our application process is not as extensive as the state of Michigan’s. And they have to go through the state’s process also.” Handzlik adds, “we’ll have the MRA () come next and hopefully will be wrapping up with our inspections.”
Handzlik says there will be a difference between what’s offered medically and what will be offered recreationally. “Actually the products are going to change quite drastically. So the state of Michigan has been holding a lot of specific products for adult-use only and vice versa for medical only. So now having the option to sell recreational product, we’re actually going to have the available ability of thousands of new products that we’ve never seen before in Traverse City.”
The opening of recreational facilities will also mean revenue sharing to Traverse City government by the end of the year.
“The city will receive some revenue starting toward the end of this year. So and it is significant. The state provides funding or passes along revenue that they receive to the local units of government based on the number of licensed adult use cannabis retail facilities that they have in their jurisdiction,” Marentette says. “For Traverse City, it could be a very significant sum, you know, somewhere north of half a million dollars, most likely if the formula shakes out, similar to how it did in 2022.”
Lighthouse says they will continue with licenses for both medical and recreational.
“I know there definitely is going to be a lot of competition out there. It’s going to be a where should I go? Where should I go and shop? But I do want to be open with everyone here. There is more than enough market potential here for all of us and to as well. I think that once you start shopping around, just you’ll figure out your favorites,” Handzlik says. “Honestly, I just want everybody out there to know that we are here to help. We are here to aid in things that you might be worried about. You might have trouble sleeping, you might have trouble with stress. You might have trouble with pain. And that’s what we’re here to help you with.”
The first permits are expected to be issued sometime in March.