Newly occupying the old PNC Bank building in downtown Bay City is a company built around helping businesses navigate the complicated medical marijuana industry that’s coming to Michigan.
Michigan Marijuana Licensing Experts LLC is headquartered in suite 201 of the building at 300 Center Ave., having recently relocated after forming as a consumer-data business in Pinconning.
Tera Lanczak, chief administrative officer, said the consulting firm was having a hard time recruiting staff at its old location and wanted a more centralized office to serve clients throughout Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties.
In describing the business, Lanczak said they “specialize in navigating through the process of licensure at the local and state levels for the (Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act).”
The firm has 25 employees and is looking to hire more, specifically those with backgrounds in marketing, graphic design, social media and security.
Recently, parent company KTC Industries bought half the building from Bay City businessman Art Dore and rents space to MMLE.
The firm currently services about 120 clients.
“The clients we service are interested in either investing, business development, or attaining one of five licenses,” Lanczak said. The five licenses under the MMFLA are secure transport, safety compliance facility, processing, growing, and provisioning.
MMLE also has a municipal side, advising and educating area governments on the state laws. To that end, they recruited a zoning expert, Tom Reif, who travels to municipalities to inform them on rules, regulations, and laws pertaining to the industry laws.
“We’ll often times have a township call us and say, ‘We’re really undecided on what to do. We don’t know what the right choice for our community is,'” Lanczak said. “Tom actually goes out and meets one-on-one with the township and zoning boards and helps them decide on proper zoning in order to achieve the look and feel that they want for these facilities in their community.”
Case in point, such consultation occurred with Hampton Township, which has opted against provisioning licenses, also referred to as dispensaries, but is going ahead with the other four, like growing and transport. Hampton Township is one of more than 80 municipalities that has worked with MMLE.
In Bay City, the firm is working with five groups interested in obtaining provisioning licenses and 10 interested in manufacturing licenses, Lanczak said.
“The challenge is finding real estate that’s properly zoned and qualifies,” she said.
On Friday, Jan. 26, MMLE hosted its first networking event, drawing about 60 people. Speakers Jamie Lowell and Rick Thompson discussed such topics as how temporary licenses are awarded, tax policies, a rundown of legislation, and what implications come with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recently stated rescinding of the Cole Memorandum, which restricts federal marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized medical or recreational use.
“His actions seem to have created a response that’s very favorable,” said Lowell, an activist who co-founded Michigan’s first recognized medical marijuana dispensary. “Congress seems to want to shore up this issue and not leaving it hanging as it is. It has created a response that might actually get some clarification for us. It’s at least made it clear that he doesn’t have significant support to carry through on a lot of this stuff.
“Of course a lot of people are concerned, but as it’s settled,” Lowell continued, “we’ve learned the discretion of the (federal) prosecutors may be to not make this a priority.”