Medical marijuana lottery brings big crowd, disappointment for some

May 3, 2019

Thirteen applicants were awarded medical marijuana licenses. The selected businesses will need to continue to pass inspections and meet requirements to open.
Credit Taylor Wizner

A lottery was held in Traverse City on Friday to hand out licenses for medical marjiuana centers. The city clerk selected the winners by lottery out of 72 applicants.

Valerie Rissi’s eyes lit up when her business was called.

Rissi was retired until her daughter convinced her to apply for a licence for a medical marijuana center. She worked on her application for over two years

"I thought 13 of 72, what’s your odds? Not real well, but that’s why it’s the lottery," she says.

Out in the parking lot where BMW's and Land Rovers were parked, Steve and Barb Ezell licked their wounds. 

The Interlochen couple were picked last in the lottery, meaning they don’t have a shot at getting a license.

"Traverse City is always preaching buy local, shop local, and now [these dispensaries] are going to go to people downstate where there’s hundreds of dispensaries anyways," Ezell says.

Ezell says he and his wife spent more than $5,000 on a gamble that didn’t pay off. Now, they say they are re-opening a medical marijuana facility in Interlochen.