The Bay City Commission approved licenses for four more medical marijuana dispensaries Monday, bringing the total number of proposed, city-approved medicinal herb shops to five.
Two of the approved dispensaries, sometimes labelled “provisioning centers,” are a half mile away from each other on opposite sides of the Lafayette Bridge.
Another, called District Bay, will be located in the former Grampa Tony’s restaurant on Wilder Road about a block away from an existing Bangor Township dispensary named Hydra Elevated Wellness.
The final dispensary approved by city commissioners at their Monday, May 8, meeting will be located at 1313 N. Johnson St. That proposed dispensary is a mile away from another at a former Long John Silver’s restaurant at 710 Livingston St. which commissioners approved in mid-April.
In all, the approved medical marijuana dispensaries comprise nearly a quarter of the 25 allowed in the city by the commission last December. According to 2016 state data, Bay County has 2,327 medical marijuana cardholders.
David Rozanski, an independent business consultant working with Uncle Buds dispensary, said he’s not worried about their approved 212 Salzburg Ave. business struggling for customers even though there’s others in the game nearby.
Like in the retail market, friendly and knowledgeable workers, along with great prices and products, get patients in the door and coming back, Rozanski said.
“There’s a lot of patients who need help, and we really pride ourselves in being different in our offerings,” he said. “There’s room enough for everybody.”
Come November, the marijuana market could significantly expand, should Michigan voters approve of a recreational marijuana measure on the ballot.
Andrew Niedzinski, president of the city commission, said the work being done with medical marijuana now in Bay City will translate to better adaptation of any possible recreational use law.
“I think it’s a huge leg-up for us,” Niedzinski said. “City staff is very knowledge on the subject now.”
Passage of recreational marijuana use is something Uncle Buds is keeping an eye on, Rozanski said.
“We’re big believers in freedom of choice, as it pertains to adult choice,” Rozanski said. “We look at the possibility of recreational use as a different type of market. Right now we’re focused on patients. If it goes recreational, then we’d also want to service that market.”
Others in the industry like Jason Abro, whose proposed dispensary was approved Monday, are “taking a backseat” on the issue.
“I’m staying neutral on the recreational part,” Abro said. “I have mixed feelings about the recreational part. I’m not against it. I’m not for it.”
Some of the benefits to Bay City brought by the dispensaries are sales tax generation, job creation, use and renovation of vacant buildings and a $5,000 a year licensing fee, Niedzinski said.
Uncle Buds plans to hire around 10 people once their store opens, Rozanski said.
District Bay, located at 4330 Wilder Road, expects to hire 10 to 15 workers, according to Abro, who owns the proposed dispensary.
If all goes well, Uncle Buds should open in six months, Rozanski said. Currently, the locally-owned business has a dispensary at 11 S. Huron Road in Kawkawlin Township.
Abro said he didn’t have a timeline for when District Bay will open. His other dispensary, District House on 3967 N. Euclid Ave., opened in February.