Medical marijuana growth in Tuscola County has officials, entrepreneurs seeing green

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Steve Erickson

The number of medical marijuana cards in Tuscola County has nearly doubled in one year, and local officials, property owners, and entrepreneurs are exploring ways to capitalize on the area market and newly regulated industry.
Example?
Steve Erickson, executive director, Tuscola County Economic Development Corp. (TCEDC), confirmed Tuesday that an individual has twice offered to make a donation to the TCEDC in exchange for its business planning assistance.
“(The individual) wants to open a couple of medical marijuana outlets, one of them being here in Caro,” Erickson said.
Concurrently, local building owners such as Scott Romain – who had planned to turn a former flea market in downtown Caro into a $1.2 million rum microdistillery before plans fell through – say they are more than happy to support entrepreneurs who want to buy or lease their vacant properties for legal medical marijuana operations.
Last week, Vassar City Council began discussing the topic, including the potential positive economic impact – just a few days before the Tuscola County Board of Commissioners held a lengthy discussion at its regular meeting about finding ways to generate revenue and reduce dependency on tax revenue from wind turbines.
And it’s all happening as the number of medical marijuana cards in Tuscola County increased from 682 in October 2015 to 1,335 as of yesterday, according to the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department.
“You’ve got the makings of a whole new industry that will probably be turned down by a lot of communities throughout the state,” said Brian Chapman, city manager, Vassar. “It’s a good opportunity for someone who is trying to rebuild their lost industry that was taken out through the recession or maybe they just closed up doors.
“In the long term…I think a lot of communities will be playing catch-up on a lot of this stuff,” Chapman said. (Read more)

(This story originally appeared in the Nov. 16, 2016 print edition of The Tuscola County Advertiser and can be read in its entirety here.)

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