Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton City Manager Eric Waara, left, and Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson talk during a Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance meeting Wednesday.
HANCOCK — Houghton and Hancock are among many Michigan municipalities attempting to decide whether to opt-in to medical marijuana.
About 2 percent of the population statewide has medical marijuana cards — about 730 in Houghton County, Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson said at last week’s Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance meeting.
There had been four provisioning centers in Houghton County, which has declined to two, in Houghton and Portage Township.
Opening a provisioning center now requires capitalization of $300,000, all of which much be traced, Anderson said.
Only the value of 15 ounces of usable marijuana can be counted as inventory and used in the capitalization.
“It’s weeded out a lot of operators in the state,” Anderson said. “The flip side is, if you get into the business, you’d better be well-capitalized and know what you’re getting into.”
The federal government has been taking a harsher stance against marijuana. Both cities received a letter from the Department of Agriculture saying future grants would depend on the cities attesting they did not support marijuana.
“Does that mean if you opt-in…you are violating federal law and would not be eligible for federal grants?” Anderson said.
Houghton has had a medical marijuana ordinance for the past decade, said City Manager Eric Waara. The city is preparing an update to its five-year master plan. Houghton, as with other municipalities in the state, has been lobbied by cannabis groups seeking to help write an updated ordinance.
“There’s an entire industry out there right now of people who are just selling compliance software for the cannabis industry,” he said. “It’s big business. It’s going to be bigger business as things go along.”