By Sue Moore
“We grow things here,” quipped Wakeshma Township Supervisor Jason Gatlin. “Corn, soy beans, pumpkins – and now medical marijuana.”
The township approved an ordinance last December to allow growing and processing marijuana, a possible testing facility and a transportation facility license within the township boundaries. It does not permit marijuana planting in fields. It can only be grown in indoor facilities, Gatlin said.
Nobody has broken ground yet. Gatlin said the township has received approximately $30,000 in application fees from outside entities. “I’ve received calls from interested parties from as far away as Texas, New York, California, Colorado and Washington state. We have the right space and the right place.”
The state will come in to do inspections of each facility licensed for levels of 500, 1,000 or 1500 plants. Licenses may be stacked, so there are opportunities for growers to expand their business in the future. Stacking is at the township’s discretion. The application fee is $5,000 per year per license for a grower, paid to the township. No dispensaries will be allowed. “There is a lot to the whole thing. Farming is what we do out here, so we feel this an appropriate area for growing” Gatlin said.
“Our plan is to use the marijuana licensing fees for township betterment.” To this end, the approximate $30,000 has been spent on taking down some dilapidated buildings in the township that are dangerous, having been condemned many years ago. There have been objections to this from the owners,” Gatlin pointed out.
“The land here is vast and our population is small; the 2010 census showed 1,414 residents. Investors may come in and buy or lease. Those who are quicker to get into this new market will likely make more money. That’s what is bringing the interest in so fast,” Supervisor Gatlin said.
A resident voiced some concerns about the passage of the medical marijuana ordinance in the township. Facilities are regulated and controlled by the state, she was told. The state has special software for the facilities and cameras will see everything from sales to measuring to growing. The number of licenses was uncapped to allow license stacking in order for growers to have the opportunity to develop a long-term relationship with the township and the community.
Dispensaries were brought up during a recent presentation at one of the township Board meetings. The Board voted to uphold the decision for no dispensary licenses to be issued within the township. Even though they are not permitted in the township currently, the Board could always change that in the future if they feel it is beneficial for the residents, Gatlin pointed out.