Kingsley is the latest Michigan town to give the green light to medical marijuana businesses. A vote by the village council this week clears the way for TheraCann, a Canadian company that wants to build a $20 million marijuana facility in the Kingsley Industry Park.
The building would be right next to Marc McKellar's house.
“Frankly, I’ve never been a proponent of marijuana … whatsoever," says McKellar. "I never contemplated it, really. Never thought about it.”
Because he sits on Kingsley’s Downtown Development Authority board, McKellar was forced to think about it. The DDA board spent four months poring over Michigan’s byzantine marijuana laws. McKellar says the board was relieved to learn that Michigan law gives a lot of power to local communities to allow - and to regulate - marijuana businesses.
And TheraCann was promising 100 new jobs in Kingsley. When the DDA board opened the discussion up to the community, McKellar was surprised by the reaction.
“A lot less pushback than I expected," he says. "I expected more people to respond the way I did. Frankly, what I found was that a lot of folks in all demographics, age and politics … there was a lot of people interested in this going in.”
After nearly a year of discussion, the village council voted this week to allow medical marijuana businesses in Kingsley.
Richard Goodman, TheraCann’s president of US operations, has been watching closely.
“Everyone was completely relieved and very honored and humbled that the people of Kingsley, of their own accord, made this decision for us," says Goodman.
Goodman says TheraCann’s Kingsley facility will grow and process marijuana that will only be sold in Michigan.
The Kingsley council decided not to allow retail sales of marijuana in the village – and Goodman says TheraCann is okay with that. He says the next steps are coming up with a site plan and filing for various permits.
“We are all hands on deck to make sure that we’ve raised enough capital so we can go big with this one, and then make sure we have the proper plans in place to make it a huge success," says Goodman.
McKellar is hopeful TheraCann will have a positive economic impact for Kingsley, which saw the closure last year of one of its biggest employers – the Pugsley Correctional Facility.
“TheraCann had proposed 100 jobs and $20 million in the facility. That’s all fine and great," says McKellar. "The reality is even if it was a two or three-million dollar facility and 15 jobs, that’s a lot more than Kingsley has now.”
Under a new set of marijuana laws passed last year by the state legislature, state licenses will be issued starting next month.