U.P.’s first cannabis microbusiness opens in Munising

The Upper Peninsula’s first-ever cannabis microbusiness -- where all products are
grown and packaged on site -- has opened in Munising.

The Munising Cannabis Company, a locally owned and operated “seed-to-weed”
establishment, is among 11 cannabis microbusinesses scattered throughout Michigan; there are no others in the U.P.

Located in the former Shooters Firehouse and Bar, Munising Cannabis Company offers flower, gummies and flower rosin and plans to expand its products in the near future. All patrons must check in prior to purchasing any items.

The company has a group of 17 investors, many of whom are from the
area, as well as five full-time employees and a few seasonal workers. Combined, the staff has 25 years of combined experience in the cannabis field.

Jody Irving, general manager of Munising Cannabis Company, said the idea behind the company came from friends discussing they’d like to open a marijuana business one day.

“So, we collaborated and tossed around the idea of whether we wanted to be a microbusiness or retail dispensary, but then we decided we wanted to do it all,” she said. “So, we decided on a microbusiness license, which allows us 150 plants and we do all the processing ourselves in house.”

Everyone on the staff was born and raised in the Munising area, Irving said, adding, “I’m the only one that’s not from here originally but I used to own Subway in town for years and was accepted into the community right away and I’ve always wanted to give back somehow. Munising is such an incredibly unique place.”

The company sits adjacent to the city police and fire departments, Mill Street Laundry and Higher Love Cannabis Company, the first retail cannabis storefront to open in the city of just under 2,000 residents.

Kathy Reynolds, CEO of the Greater Munising Bay Partnership and chair of the
Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance, welcomed the Munising
Cannabis Company and its neighboring cannabis retailers as part of the
community.

"We are happy to have the first Upper Peninsula microbusiness here in Munising
and we are proud of our local entrepreneurs and investors. It is always exciting to
see people, especially locals, start up a business from scratch,” she said. “With a lot of hard work and persistence, they have made this a reality while adding jobs and
commerce to our area.”

The Munising Cannabis Company is the third cannabis shop in Munising, she noted, adding, “these businesses have not only created many jobs, but they are
invested in the community and are always reaching out to volunteer, sponsor and
assist with local efforts."

Opening the business 

The work to renovate the structure was done by the staff. A 3,000-square-foot addition was constructed so the storefront, growing, processing and trim rooms could all be under one roof. 


A customer visits the Munising Cannabis Company, which opened its doors in October.


“We’re proud that we built everything ourselves,” said Bill Hase, who is retail manager. “There’s a little self-pride here because we did this all together.”

The staff began construction in December 2019, just a few months before the coronavirus pandemic began. The business finally opened in October.

“It’s been a three-year process and there were a lot of loops we had to navigate
between state and federal regulations,” said Jordan Ryan, cultivation manager.
“Then COVID hit so building costs went through the roof.”

Choosing a name also proved to be a struggle.

“We went through hundreds of names, too, and finally, we were like ‘Wait a
minute, we’re a hometown company. We’re hometown people. So, we became
the Munising Cannabis Company,” Irving said. “It all was a longer process than we
hoped it to be, but we finally opened the doors.”

Irving said the city of Munising has been “very accepting” of the
microbusiness along with Higher Love Cannabis Company, “Higher Lover has been supportive of us the entire time. They’re great neighbors to have,” Irving said.

An all-natural product

Munising Cannabis Company takes pride in the fact that all of its products are natural; they use solventless extraction techniques, resulting in a higher-quality cannabis.

“We’re all natural from start to finish,” Irving said. “We actually press our flower
and hash rosin solventless by using an essential oil. We press it into our
concentrates and that’s what we use to make our edibles and vape cartridges
eventually.”


The greenhouse at Munising Cannabis Company, the only cannabis microbusiness in the U.P.



An independent testing facility out of Traverse City checks the quality of the
product almost weekly, Irving added.

“For gummies, they’ll take about 30 of them randomly and test for hundreds of
different things – how much THC, if there are any chemicals, everything you could
imagine,” she said. “But then we get a terpene profile, so we know exactly if it’s
higher in the things that, for example, make you sleepy or give you energy.”

A big part of their mission, Hase said, is to educate visitors about the products
they’re purchasing.

“We want to make sure people are trying strains that are right for them,” he said.
“Customer service is everything.”

According to Ryan, who has more than 10 years of growing experience, the deep-water culture system they use to grow the plants also sets them apart from other
microbusinesses.

“The deep-water culture system that we put together is just phenomenal. That’s
one thing I’m highly proud of, especially as we continue, we’re going to dial it in
further and further and get our plants to perform better than what they are now
as we continue to run some of the strains that we find we want to keep around,”
he said. “There’s going to be two strains, about 20 to 25 pounds of harvest, each
month. We have five rooms to keep that cycle going.”

While Munising Cannabis Company won’t have the variety other dispensaries
have, the quality is and will continue to be top notch, Irving said. By summer, the company anticipates having at least 10 to 12 different strains on the shelf, a variety of edibles, vape cartridges, rosins and more.

More about marijuana

Recreational marijuana became legal in Michigan in 2018, a decade after medical
was approved by voters. Since then, storefronts have popped up throughout the
state. There are 1,309 active licenses, according to a November statistical report
by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency, with under 50 above the bridge.

Established in 2013, Northern Specialty Health in Houghton was the first medical
cannabis retailer in the U.P. The Fire Station opened in 2019 in Negaunee
Township as the first recreational and second medical marijuana dispensary.
In October, the Fire Station hosted “Camp Cannabis,” the first locally licensed
marijuana consumption event at Tourist Park in Marquette.

“The event is an opportunity for attendees to come together in a welcoming
environment to celebrate and learn about cannabis," the organizers said in a
press release. "Through Camp Cannabis, TFS hopes to lessen the stigma
associated with the use of cannabis, further event attendees knowledge of the
plant, and provide the Upper Peninsula with a one-of-a-kind arts and culture experience."

When combining recreational and medical sales, Michigan's cannabis industry has
raked in $2 billion. In March, the Michigan Department of Treasury announced
that more than $42.2 million would be distributed among 163 municipalities and
counties as a part of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.

For the 2021 fiscal year, each eligible municipality and county received more than
$56,400 for every licensed retail store and microbusiness located within its
jurisdiction. Munising and Alger County each received $56,453.44, respectively (Higher Lover Cannabis Company was the sole retail company operating at the time). 

That number is set to increase in the future as the Fire Station, a U.P.-based
cannabis chain, and Munising Cannabis Company are now on the scene.

Munising Cannabis Company is located at 408 Mill St., Munising. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Information: www.munisingcannabiscompany.com.