The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Budding medical marijuana business debated


Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

DAVID SCHULTIS, standing, addresses the city of Bessemer Planning Commission on Wednesday evening regarding the positive impact additional marijuana-based businesses would have on the local economy. Schultis said Bessemer would receive additional taxes through the opening of new businesses, have higher numbers of employment and receive greater receipts from the heavy draw growing operations have on utilities. Among those at the meeting were, from left, Rob Coleman, Dave Osier, John Turkal, Richard Matrella, Bill McDonald and City Manager Charly Loper.


Bessemer - The Bessemer Planning Commission met on Wednesday evening to discuss the Medical Marijuana Licensing Act and Bessemer's acceptance or rejection of support for additional marijuana-based businesses.

At the prior meeting of the planning commission on Dec. 7, the commission requested a business representative appear before the commission and provide answers to questions regarding taxation and employment. David Schultis provided an email with answers regarding employment and impact on the city to City Manager Charly Loper, and she forwarded the answers to the city council and planning commission.

"All types of business would be a benefit to the city. From transportation, laboratory analysis, retail, processing, and growing, they would all provide jobs, a deeper tax base, and additional payments through the use of utilities," Schultis said.

Schultis elaborated that it would not be in Bessemer's interest to limit the businesses because most of the growing would not be for this area anyways. "One 500-plant grow operation would provide enough marijuana to supply all over Gogebic County. The excess product would be shipped down state. So there is not reason to limit the business opportunities because it would only impact the city in a negative manner by forcing the operations to other locations."

One 500-plant grow operation would probably directly employ anywhere from 18-30 people, he said. Willie Dufour interjected the additional employment above stream and below stream that would also impact the area. From mechanics to utility workers, the entire community would benefit from the additional influx of employment and fusions of money the business would inject into the local economy.

John Turkal, commission president, said the impact of carbon filtration and how through the simple use of carbon filtration the odor associated with marijuana is completely mitigated and even neighbors are unable to detect the smell of a facility.

Legislation on the books regarding the tracking of marijuana from seed to plant is designed to limit the nefarious movement of product across state lines by allowing tighter accounting of the plants and material. In addition, new open-door policy laws with law enforcement further act to limit bad actors from taking over the industry and hurting neighboring states.

Rich Duncanson, a local grower and provider of medical marijuana to five patients addressed the council and said he supports additional marijuana-based infrastructure in Bessemer because "it would only strengthen the community." Duncanson and his wife, "own their own building and are raising their children in Bessemer; they are invested in the community and want to see it do well."

The council and business interests all agreed; additional marijuana businesses would bring greater competition, which is good for the consumer, but also is good for business as it forces businesses to address their own business practices from production through customer relations to further maximize their marketability and sales.

Proponents argue that of Bessemer elects to limit any facet of the business cycle, it is effectively sending money to another municipality that will provide the service Bessemer is choosing to limit.


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