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Unbound: Houghton strikes limits on number of marijuana shops

Houghton strikes limits on number of marijuana shops

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Jacie Duranso of Negaunee speaks in support of the marijuana ordinances passed by the Houghton City Council Wednesday. The ordinances remove caps on the number of medical or recreational marijuana retailers allowed to operate within the town. Also pictured is Councilor Mike Needham (left).

HOUGHTON — The Houghton City Council approved two ordinances Wednesday removing any caps on the number of medical or recreational marijuana retailers allowed in the city. 

In both cases, the businesses are restricted to a narrow band of space along Razorback Drive. 

Both votes were 5-1, with Councilor John Sullivan casting the sole dissenting vote in each. In previous meetings, Sullivan said if retailers had to be allowed, there should be a limit on the number. 

The recreational ordinance removes the limit on the number of facilities allowed in town, which was previously one. It also amended language on the procedure of applying for a license that was dependent on a limit. 

The medical marijuana ordinance was also revised to remove language barring a location near an existing facility, and standards for the order in which applications would be considered. 

The council initially sent the recreational marijuana ordinance back to the planning commission with the intent of amending the city’s zoning ordinance to lift the cap from one location to three. The planning commission decided to remove the limit entirely, reasoning that geographic constraints and market forces will restrict the number of businesses on its own. 

Public comments were in support of the ordinances.

Earlier this year, the council voted to allow recreational marijuana retail within the city. Last month, the city approved a special-use permit for recreational sales for Northern Speciality Health. The retailer, currently the only place in the city to sell medical marijuana, hopes to receive state approval for retail sales by 

Jacie Duranso of Negaunee, a graduate of Northern Michigan University’s medical plenty chemistry program, supports decisions to expand the industry across the U.P. 

“I take a very serious approach to cannabis and the cannabis industry,” she said. “I believe it will bring many positive opportunities for many people in our community, the community as a whole and surrounding communities.”

Kyle Blomquist, a member of the Iron Mountain City Council, said the city’s competitive process for licenses had become a distraction for the administration. Relying on the land-use ordinance to limit the number of retailers is much simpler, he said. 

“It’ll help you on the administrative side,” he said. “it’ll help the applicants in terms of the timeline to licensure and eventually development. Thank you for taking that action.”

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