Council divided: Should Menominee permit a third marijuana business?

WHAT’S HAPPENING: The Menominee City Council was deadlocked on a vote to allow another marijuana business within city limits. The vote on a resolution to allow a third marijuana sales location was tied 4-4, so the resolution failed. 

WHAT IT IS: Menominee allows two marijuana retail licenses within the municipality, which were awarded, with some controversy, in September 2021. Instead of relying on zoning restrictions, like in Munising, to restrict where a marijuana business could be located or yield much control to tribal business entities like Chippewa County, Menominee decided to give the two licenses on a subjective basis. A consolidated lawsuit between the four groups that did not receive the licenses has been brought against the city.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “This resolution is being brought forth at the request of legal counsel. A yes vote on this is just a desire to move forward in that direction. It does not mean tomorrow we will award another provisional retail license,” Menominee City Manager Brett Botbyl said.

MARIJUANA AS A PLATFORM: The Menominee City Council has nine seats, but one was vacated after Ward 4 Councilman Frank Pohlmann moved out of the district. It is unclear how the impact of the lawsuit and the views on marijuana will impact finding a replacement for the city.

Council members on both sides of the vote talked about whether or not the city made a mistake in its selection process. Botbyl also said that the city’s legal team of Plunkett Conney in Petoskey believes that the city’s legal defense fund could be at risk if the resolution did not pass.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: This looks to continue as a problem for Menominee as elected officials are concerned about the immediate and long-term risks of the situation.

“Right now we’re not making any money. We’re spending money,” Councilman Bill Plemel said. 

“The sooner we settle this, the better. I’ve been saying for months that we should settle this thing, get it over with. I believe this resolution in front of us doesn’t just settle it, it just extends it a little more. I think we’re going to probably get a couple more lawsuits because of it.”