4 marijuana store licenses approved

Mayor Jean Stegeman encouraged Menominee City Council members to vote on the marijuana selection committee’s recommendations at Monday’s council meeting.

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—The Menominee City Council approved recreational-use marijuana store licenses for Rize/1st Properties and Fire Station Cannabis Co. Monday, along with medical marijuana store licenses for Agri-Med and Attitude Wellness/Lume.

At its regular meeting, the council approved the recommendations of the marijuana rubric scoring committee in each license category.

But the process might not be over. Council member William Plemel suggested the city council should provide four additional retail licenses, for a total of eight, while representatives from several companies hinted about pursuing legal action because of the city’s subjective approval process.

Plemel specifically mentioned wanting to award licenses to Ottawa Innovations/Higher Love and Attitude Wellness/Lume to correct what some considered oversights.

But Mayor Jean Stegeman disagreed, saying, “We don’t get to second guess the assignment of the points.”

The scoring rubric clearly states, “The decision of the selection committee with respect to scoring shall be final and not subject to appeal.” However, the city council has the right to grant or deny licenses “regardless of scoring rank.”

“We crafted this ordinance. We all voted on it. We all had plenty of time to change it,” Stegeman said.

Stegeman said the proper procedure for amending the ordinance would be in the Judicial & Legislative/Personnel & Labor (JL/PL) committee Plemel chairs. “So as not to bog down this entire process and two years’ worth of work perhaps we should as Councilman Pohlmann pointed out, table this and bring it back up in JL/PL if we want to in the future amend that ordinance.”

But the council voted to approve the selection committee’s scores and recommendations, voting on each recommendation individually. The council voted to recuse council member Dennis Klitzke from participation in the marijuana license voting due to what might be perceived as a conflict of interest. Klitzke is the owner of a property that’s for sale and could be sold to a marijuana company. Council member Josh Jones also brought to the council’s attention his brother’s interest in a marijuana company but Jones was allowed to participate.

Council member Heather Nelson’s absence from the meeting was excused.

Frank Pohlmann, who cast the one dissenting vote when the council passed the marijuana ordinance earlier this year, motioned to accept the selection committee’s recommendations.

“I think by approving what the selection committee did (in August) follows the long process,” Pohlmann said. “We started to discuss the ordinance. We approved the ordinance....I didn’t vote for it for various reasons. But we had an ordinance. We then started with a selection process. In the meantime, I think we have to admit not everything in the process was perfect. We have on our own corrected the shortcomings that we had and we completed the selection process. We’re now at point where in 180 days we could have eight operational marijuana establishments in town,” Pohlmann said, including four retail stores, three growers and a processing center.

Pohlmann suggested most of the complaints came after scores were announced. “Of course, when you hand out two licenses and you have 20 applicants, it’s very normal that 18 of them—the vast majority—will be very unhappy and will say everything went wrong here. This was a bad effort,” he said. “I would not like to bring this process down and go back to the starting point.”

“If someone was saying this wasn’t perfect, I would say I would agree. But you might want to think about it...It doesn’t have to be perfect,” Pohlmann said.

The council agreed to vote on each of the selection committee’s recommendations individually. Each recommendation for a license passed with strong support from the council.

The city council’s approval came after months of discussion about how companies should be selected for licenses. A selection committee used scores from an application rubric as the basis for its recommendations, but many people questioned the results.

Fire Station, which earned a perfect score of 50 points on its three applications, received approval for three licenses, but Lume/Attitude Wellness, which also received a perfect 50 on its applications, was approved for only a medical use marijuana store, not an adult-use retail store.

Agri-Med, which applied for both adult-use recreational and medical marijuana store licenses, earned 47 points on each of its applications but the council granted Agri-Med only a medical-marijuana store license, based on the selection committee’s recommendations.

Rize/1st Property Holdings, which earned 48 points on its application for an adult-use store at 3213 10th St. and 44 points for its application for a retail store at 2110 10th St., received council approval for the 3213 10th St. location.