The Newaygo City Council approved a medical marijuana manufacturer's purchase of land in the city's industrial park Monday. The vote passed 4-2, but some residents disapprove because the land is less than a half-mile away from Newaygo High School.
Having the plant in Newaygo is acceptable, but not this close to the schools, said Missy Clark, who lives in Newaygo and has a daughter in elementary school.
"Right in the middle of our drug free school zone, we're going to have trucks full of drugs leaving a facility," Clark said. "It's just a contradiction in our ethics and values when it comes to what we're teaching our children."
The company that's purchasing the land is called Wring Biopharma, and it's only a few months old.
This would be a problem if it were a dispensary, but it's only a manufacturing plant, said Scott Faulkner, chairperson of the Newaygo Economic Development Organization.
"There will be no retailing from this," Faulkner said. "An industrial park is the perfect place to have a manufacturing facility."
The plant will add jobs and allow the city to capitalize on the more than 200 growing operations currently in Newaygo, he said.
"At present, none of them are paying any taxes on their enterprise," Faulkner said. "This was an opportunity for city of Newaygo to concentrate the growing facilities into one place, regulate it and collect tax structures on it."
In the City Council meeting, Newaygo Mayor Ed Fedell said the investment in the medical marijuana plant would result in lower taxes on water and sewage.
Brooke Schaffer, who is running against Fedell, said his statement is premature.
"We need to be careful with what we're promising the people with this tax revenue because there's been no budget done for it yet," Schaffer said. "So nobody knows where the money is going to go."
Schaffer also opposes the location of the plant. She said the majority of the citizens don't want the plant near the schools and didn't get enough information about the decision.
"There are so many people in this town who were unaware that this was even happening. The people of Newaygo are what make this city beat. And I feel like they should've been more informed so that they could've been given a voice."
Faulkner said the city made many attempts to alert citizens of meetings.
The State of Michigan will begin officially licensing medical marijuana operations under a new regulatory framework on December 15.
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