Houghton dispensary to stay open after latest extension

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette file photo Penny Milkey, owner of Northern Specialty Health, is seen at the dispensary in April. The shop is among those that will remain open through at least Dec. 15.

HOUGHTON — The medical marijuana dispensary in Houghton is among those getting a reprieve with the announcement of another extension for businesses seeking to become licensed under new Michigan law.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs extended the deadline to Dec. 15 for medical marijuana businesses to obtain a license or shut down.

The deadline, moved multiple times as processing of applications had lagged, was most recently set at Saturday.

The facility in Houghton, Northern Health Specialty, is one of 108 facilities statewide that will be allowed to continue operations after Saturday with local authorization.

The state will allow applicants that had applied before Feb. 15 and submitted a subsequent facility license application before June 15 to continue operation. Facilities that submitted the second application after June 15 must shut down by Saturday.

“Really, the operation here has been almost day by day lately, just figuring out how we can be here for the patients and the people who need their medicine,” said Chrystal Kovach, an employee at Northern Specialty Health.

The Houghton City Council will hold a public hearing Sept. 26 on a proposed ordinance amending the city’s marijuana ordinance to comply with state law.

City Manager Eric Waara said the changes mostly relate to terminology, such as changing “dispensary” to “provisioning center.”

If the council does not approve the changes, NSH could be forced to shut down, he said.

Out of 702 license applications, the state has awarded 37 full licenses and given preliminary approval to 72 applicants.

NSH’s application is still being processed, Kovach said. There has yet to be a site visit.

“They’ve come here to say hello and say they would be the ones doing the inspection, but they haven’t gotten that far yet,” she said.