Pot PowerPoint, pawning place, policing pondered in public period

HANCOCK — Three people spoke Wednesday during the public comment period at the regular Hancock City Council meeting.

Detective Lt. Tim Sholander of the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team said he’s in the process of speaking to various community leaders asking for financial support for the team, which investigates and makes arrests for drug law violations.

There is a new UPSET West, which Sholander said was requested by and supported by Houghton Police Chief John Donnelly. The new group includes representatives from the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office and the Houghton Police Department.

Sholander said the Portage Health Foundation is supporting UPSET with a $120,000 grant.

The recent overdose deaths from people abusing opioids, including heroin, show the need for the continuation of UPSET, Sholander said.

Also speaking was Daniel Duefrene, who told the council he would like to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the shopping center on Lincoln Drive where Pat’s Foods is located.

Duefrene gave a PowerPoint presentation outlining the need for and community benefits from having a medical marijuana dispensary in the community.

There will be economic benefits to the city if a dispensary is opened, Duefrene said. He also cited statistics showing how crime declined in communities with dispensaries.

City Manager Glenn Anderson said city ordinance prohibits the opening of a dispensary within a certain distance of schools or churches, and Duefrene said the site he’s considering meets those criteria.

Also speaking was Rick Freeman, owner of Northwoods Sporting Goods on Quincy Street, who told the council after several requests from customers that he do so, he would like to begin a pawn operation in the store.

Freeman said he’s developed a policy for the holding of pawned items before they’re put on sale, and he does have space in his building for such an addition to his business.

Freeman also urged the council not to allow the opening of a medical marijuana dispensary.

Later in the meeting, council approved Freeman beginning a pawn business in his store.

No action was taken regarding the other two speakers.