Niles City Council revokes licenses from marijuana business

NILES – Following action taken Monday, one marijuana business will not be making its home within Niles city limits.

The Niles City Council approved 17 agenda items unanimously at its regular meeting. Among the items were revoking marijuana business Medi-Cann’s provisional licenses, again approving James Millin as the Niles city public safety director and awarding three small business grants to downtown restaurants.

The council members revoked Medi-Cann and Medi-Cann Verano’s provisional licenses, based on the companies’ non-compliance with city ordinances.

The original provisional approvals were given to Medi-Cann for a Class C grow license and processing center for medical marijuana in December 2017, according to the city council report prepared by Community Development Director Sanya Vitale. In April 2019, Medi-Cann Verano was issued a notice of alternative selection for a provisioning center.

On Sept. 28, 2020, the city council had voted to give a 90-day extension to Medi-Cann and Medi-Cann Verano, after a letter from the companies’ lawyer was sent to the council one hour before it met.

At that meeting, there were two steps added to the extension required to keep the marijuana licenses. The companies needed to submit their two-step establishment license applications to the Marijuana Regulatory Agency. The companies also were required to provide a lease or purchase agreement of a building in Niles.

Vitale’s report noted the city sent notice of the license revocation to the primary contacts of the Medi-Cann Corporation as well as their legal representative. The USPS notice was returned, marked “returned to sender,” though the recipients confirmed it was their legal address.

“To date, no communication with the city has occurred since the council meeting [in September], and no progress has been reported, nor observed,” Vitale’s report said.

Council member John Dicostanzo said he thought the city had been “more than patient” with the companies.

“At this point, I think it’s time to move on and give some other, more responsive companies an opportunity to make uses of these licenses since we have limited numbers of them,” he said.

Vitale confirmed there had been interest in the provisional Class C grow license, which allows growers up to 2,000 marijuana plants, a processing center license and an alternate selection for provisioning center.

“We would be releasing a request for proposals for those limited number of licenses available by the end of the month or first of next month,” Vitale said. “We have been getting a slew of phone calls again. I think that with adult-use [marijuana] being able to be available to anybody, not just Michigan residents, interest has been re-piqued again.”

She said she anticipates getting five to 10 applications when those three licenses are released.

Later in the meeting, City Administrator Ric Huff’s report recommended approval of Millin to continue in his role, created Sept. 14, 2020, as public safety director to lead both the Niles Police Department and Niles Fire Department.

“Since this time, the position has proven to be a viable solution to the administrative management of the police department and fire department,” Huff’s report said. “James Millin has proven to be very effective in this position and has a desire to stay in this position.”

The resolution to set salaries for both the public safety director and Niles police captain were said to come to an approximate savings of $50,000 to the city general fund.

Finally, the council approved three small business grants to downtown businesses using money from the Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The Nugget, 202 E. Main St., was awarded $10,000, Smokin’ Jim’s Café, 220 E. Main St., was awarded $7,500, and El Amigo Pepe, 226 E. Main St., was awarded $10,000.

“I’m very grateful for all of our restaurants that are open,” said Mayor Nick Shelton. “I know those three businesses that applied for those grants, will appreciate those grants. They’re very much deserving of those.”

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