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Medical marijuana dispensaries were once prolific on Michigan Avenue, with numerous locations operating there in the days before the city and state embraced regulation. They all closed in its wake.
But by the end of the year at least one fully licensed provisioning center on Michigan should be in business.Superior Wellness is set to open at 2617 E. Michigan Avenue in the same building that once housed Best Buds.
Co-owner Jeffrey Hank said he and his partners have won approval to reopen from both the state and the city but now there’s a shortage of supply, as a backlog of officially sanctioned cannabis receives state inspection.
“That’s a statewide problem. It’s got nothing to do with us,” Hank said. “You can’t find flower cannabis right now. There’s a bottleneck in the system.”
Previously, provisioning centers could sell off surplus cannabis flower and bud from medical marijuana caregivers, but Hank said the state cut off that supply chain.
Michigan Avenue, home of the capital city’s prominent old trolley line running from the Michigan State Capitol to Michigan State University, had so many dispensaries during the unregulated heyday, that it created a political backlash, and the tortuous bureaucratic approval process that followed caused the number operating on Michigan to dwindled to zero.
The street could see a second provisioning center open in the next round of approvals. A prospective business, Michigan Avenue Wellness, has a zoning board hearing on Thursday. The proprietors seek a zoning variance to be allowed to operate a dispensary on the 1900 block of Michigan Avenue, within 500 feet of two other applicants.
City Clerk Chris Swope said Michigan Avenue Wellness is likely to be denied, and even if it is approved, his office would never permit stores that close together out of a limited number of licenses. In this round of applications, the city received 54 applicants for just five licenses, which the city clerk scores.
Even before the hearing, Michigan Avenue Wellness has received an initial denial from the city clerk. Swope said he would either approve one or zero dispensaries on that stretch of Michigan — not two and definitely not three.
The new marijuana ordinance that the Lansing City Council approved last month will do away with the ability for provisioning center owners to seek zoning variances and appeals through the zoning board. Mayor Andy Schor felt the zoning appeal only added an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy, since the city clerk would not approve exceptions to the city rules regardless. Another provisioning center in the 5900 block of South Pennsylvania Avenue was denied a variance last month.
Superior operated the Michigan Avenue storefront as Best Buds and won the 2018 City Pulse Top of the Town contest as the best dispensary in Lansing before shuttering because of the regulatory hoopla. The first runner-up, Greenwave on Oakland Avenue is applying for one of the last five medical marijuana licenses, while Old 27 Wellness, the second-runner-up, is in operation on the north end of town.
Hank and his partners have plans to onboard three dispensaries in Lansing by the end of the year, but until they work out the supply problem, they are operating just one — Edgewood Wellness, at the south end of the city. The third location will be in the 2800 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, just north of the Logan Square shopping center.
Superior is one of eight provisioning centers that have received approval from both the state and the city of Lansing to sell marijuana to patients with a medical marijuana card. Two have been approved on the north side and three on the south side. Until the Michigan Avenue store reopens, east side marijuana patients have one option: Stateside Wellness on Kalamazoo Street.
Hank said he’s seeking the ability to sell recreational marijuana to the adult public at all three by the end of winter, although it may be 2020 before he gets bureaucratic approval. He said he hopes to make the Edgewood location a marijuana destination with a social club license, but he’ll need to pass another approval process for that, and Lansing is only allowing one in each ward.
Lansing plans to allow 28 dispensaries. Eight have received the green light from both the state and city, while 12 have received city but not state approval. The city is currently weighing approval of five more for medical marijuana, while three more recreational-only licenses will be granted next year.
Here is a list of active and pending dispensaries in Lansing:
Cannaisseur 3200 N East St.
Cornerstore Wellness 3316 S Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Edgewood Wellness 134 E Edgewood Blvd.
Homegrown Lansing 5025 S Pennsylvania Ave
Pure Options 5815 S Pennsylvania Ave
Old 27 Wellness 2905 N East St.
Stateside Wellness 1900 E Kalamazoo St.
Superior Wellness 2617 E Michigan Ave
City Approved, pending State Approval
Primative 5620 S. Cedar St.
Kin 3425 S Martin Luther King Blvd.
Altum Provisions 5829 Executive Drive
Apex Ultra 2101 W Willow St.
The Lansing Botanical Co. 3535 Capital City Blvd.
First Class 2515 N. Grand River Ave.
Skymint 2508 S. Cedar St.
Skymint 700 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
Green Square 7045 S. Cedar St.
Michigan Pure Med 6283 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Green Roots 515 N. Larch St.
Superior Wellness 2829 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.