Marijuana dispensary proposed in Rothbury.

February 7, 2018

Leanne Parker holds her daughter, Lillian Fitch, as she addresses the village council and audience.

Marijuana dispensary proposed in Rothbury.


By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

ROTHBURY — A proposed marijuana dispensary in the village drew nearly 50 people to the Rothbury Village Hall Tuesday evening, Feb. 6, packing the council room.

The seven-member council, which will ultimately give the final word on whether the dispensary is a go or not, heard from several area residents who are strongly in favor of the proposed facility.

Michigan Grow Supply, located in the old bank building on Michigan Avenue, is proposing transforming the vacant building south of the shop into a dispensary facility. The building is the former Dominic’s grocery store.

Anna Bayer, who has operated Michigan Grow Supply for just over a year, is also proposing building a grow facility and warehouse behind the current shop.

Bayer told the council that the village will financially benefit from the new business through the hiring of 40 new full time workers and five to 10 part time positions; by receiving yearly permit fees up to $5,000; by receiving 25 percent of the 6 percent sales tax; through donations to “city reform” for scholarships, grants, recreational equipment, etc.; and several other perks.

Many people spoke at the meeting about how much medical marijuana, which is legal in Michigan if you obtain a medical marijuana card, has helped them with various illnesses and injuries.

Leanne Parker of North Muskegon gave an emotional testimonial about her 5-year-old daughter, Lillian Fitch, who suffers from epilepsy and desperately needs a closer source than Ann Arbor to purchase medical marijuana.

“This is the last hope to save her life,” Parker said, as she held Lillian in her arms. “I have a card for her and I have nowhere to go.”

“This would be a miracle for us,” she said. “It’s not just about getting high. It’s about saving people’s lives.”

Parker, as did several other supporters of the facility, told stories of how much more effective medical marijuana is than prescription drugs. Those with severe back pain, fibromyalgia and Crohn’s Disease spoke of cannabis’ benefits.

Although several spoke in favor of the dispensary, some offered their concerns. Village resident Laurie Fulljames said she was concerned about tax increases due to a need for more police protection.

Oceana County Commissioner Bob Walker, whose district includes Rothbury, said, “I’m not going to disparage any of the things that were said.” Walker said he has had friends with terminal cancer who benefitted from medical marijuana. However, the county board went on the record, Sept. 14, 2017, opposing the legalization of marijuana for non-medical use. Walker cited the increase in traffic crash fatalities; children having easier access to the drug; and that marijuana is not legal under federal laws.

The Hart City Council “opted out” of allowing marijuana facilities in the city with a resolution that passed with a 6-1 vote, Dec. 19, 2017.

Katie Miller from the District #10 Health Department also cited the increase in traffic deaths, brain health and mental health issues. Miller said excessive use of marijuana is linked to schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and IQ reductions.

“There are only a few of us standing on the other side,” Oceana County Undersheriff Ryan Schiller said. “The personal testimonies can’t be disputed.” However, the sheriff’s office has concerns about the dispensary draining its resources due to elevated crime rates. “Our biggest concern is do we have the resources to handle increased demands due to the unique business coming to our area?”

Council member Robert Fulljames said the council will process all of the information that has been presented; discuss it with legal counsel; and then vote at a later date. The dispensary will be on the next meeting’s agenda, but Fulljames did not know if the council will vote on it then. The next meeting is slated for Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.

Bayer said she is confident the dispensary will be approved. However, if it is not, she will move her business to a location where local government will allow the dispensary.

This story is copyrighted © 2017, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

The proposed site plan for the dispensary, grow facility and warehouse at Michigan Grow Supply in Rothbury.



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