Cannabis Coming to SE Oakland County Storefronts – Liv, Shango and More

Cannabis Coming to SE Oakland County Storefronts – Liv, Shango and More

(Drew Saunders, Sept. 11, 2019)

Ferndale, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, MI-  Three cities in SE Oakland County are among those moving forward with plans to allow businesses to sell medical marijuana. Madison Heights, for example, is using this new industry to revitalize vacant industrial areas in the city, according to City Councilor Roslyn Grafstein. She told the Oakland County Times that despite the vote passing with a very narrow four to three majority, it is an important part of the city’s urban renewal plan for vacant industrial space.

“As an inner ring suburb, there’s very little land left for us to develop on,” Grafstein said. “And the bulk of vacant land we have is contaminated. We have old industrial buildings that for a variety of reasons are no longer being used, and new development isn’t coming here the way we would like it because of the cost of remediation.”

GS Ashley will be opening a dispensary and grow facility in the former Fairlanes Bowling Alley on Stephenson Highway, and the former Madison Athletic Club at Ajax and John R will be turned into a dispensary operated by Alternative RX LLC.

Ferndale has similar spaces, and was one of the first communities to move forward with the process of attracting medical marijuana related businesses.  One of those businesses is LIV, a dispensary on Hilton Road in Ferndale; which will be opening to great fanfare, for the whole week of September 16 to 22. LIV spokesperson Kat Hilton said that the dispensary will provide amenities like a glass shop, smoke shop, deliveries, and a flower shop for customers; and it will eventually be providing recreational products too.

“We really want to give LIV an overall exceptional customer service and quality of product,” Hilton said. Explaining that LIV will have a database containing the preferences of each customer, which you will be able to access in the store from iPads.  “We really want to take care of them [whether or not] they are the down to Earth, low maintenance smoker, or they’re looking for something that’s very high tech.”

The state provides licenses for every stage of producing marijuana; growers, testing facilities, processors, transporters, dispensaries. The recreational marijuana law allows individual municipalities to opt in or out and decide whether or not they want these businesses to set up shop in their town. This limits the number of locations these businesses can set up in, making towns that will allow them natural places for these businesses to cluster in.

Hazel Park is going all in on the emerging marijuana business too. City Councilperson Andy LeCureaux said that the first of at least a dozen businesses will open very soon, providing a significant number of jobs.

“The different dispensaries employ people differently,” LeCureaux said. “From the front desk, to the bud tenders, to transporters.”

Hazel Park-based Shango plans on employing about 35 people, according to spokesperson Curtis Goure. Shango is going to open its medical marijuana business a block south of 9 Mile, on South Chrysler Drive, “early next year;” then gradually move to selling recreational products as well; including edibles and drinkables.

Shango has locations in Portland and Las Vegas.  Their website also lists locations “coming soon” to Bay City and Lapeer.

The most common fear in the communities, is that by introducing these businesses, crime would go up and property values down. By keeping these businesses away from residential areas and schools, the effect on the public is intended to be minimal, while the city benefits from having business and tax revenue.

“The stigma is slowly going away. But usually you have that perception going into a community that hasn’t had a licensed facility. There’s definitely push back,” Goure said. “Ultimately, this industry will be a very significant tax basis for cities [in years] to come.”

Ferndale’s planning manager, Justin Lyons, is expecting the city’s three medicinal marijuana businesses to start opening as early as next month. While the city is embracing the medicinal marijuana market, it has not yet brought up the recreational marijuana question, so it’s not going to be a large center for the marijuana industry at the moment, but Lyons said the city council could consider opting in to the state’s new recreational marijuana law soon.

“Those three provisioning centers have all been approved, at various stages, in the past year. They all have their certificates of occupancy and licenses from the state so they’re in their own process of opening,” Lyons said. “My understanding is that there is a shortage of a lot of products throughout the state. They’re waiting to get some plots so they can open their doors.”

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