PETOSKEY — A second applicant may be on track to present a plan for a medical marijuana facility in Petoskey this month.
Acme Alternative Health — which also uses the title Interlochen Alternative Health for its existing dispensary, and has used the title Petoskey Alternative Health at earlier points in the city permitting process — is the next applicant up for review to fill one of the three available openings for a marijuana provisioning center in the city limits.
The site is planned for 1111 Charlevoix Ave., just east of the county fairgrounds.
“I have let the owner know that he can move forward with an application for special condition use review,” City Planner Amy Tweeten said in an email. “I anticipate it will come forward for the December (city planning commission) meeting.”
Earlier this year, the city had 16 sites vying for the three available marijuana provisioning center permits allotted under Petoskey’s 2018 marijuana ordinance. Among other zoning restrictions, the chosen sites cannot be any closer than 500 feet from one another.
Petoskey established a queue among those sites by ranking them based on a raffle drawing. The first randomly chosen site — Ocean Capital at 215 W. Mitchell St. — had its special condition use permit approved at the end of October. The Acme Alternative Health site was not the next applicant chosen in the drawing, but actually ended up halfway down the list at spot nine. However, a vast number of the other applicants had their eyes on locations clumped within the same few blocks of the Mitchell Street corridor, and were knocked out of the running once the Ocean Capital plan moved forward.
The Charlevoix Avenue site was previously a Blarney Castle gas station, and the property is still owned by Blarney Castle. A representative from the company has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The applicant is Stephen Ezell and his family, who run Acme Alternative Health. If the plan goes through, Ezell said he has the option to buy the site.
“I love the location,” he said. “I think, as you’re coming into town there, it’s a great location. The site is kind of a mess, so I’m hoping with the cooperation of the city … (we can) create something nice. Even if this whole marijuana thing goes to hell, there’s still going to be a nice building sitting there, and some other business can come in there sometime and thrive. So we’re excited — cautiously excited.”
Ezell and his wife moved to Northern Michigan from the Chicago area upon retirement. He said he had very little experience with marijuana until 2011 when his wife, and eventual co-founder, Barbara was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer. At the recommendation of others, they incorporated CBD and THC, the active ingredients in cannabis, into her treatment. Ezell believes the treatment had profound effects.
“I’m not trying to say the cannabis helped put her cancer into remission; that would be a false statement,” he said. “But I am saying without hesitancy, 100 percent certain, that it definitely mitigated the side effects of her chemotherapy.”
The Ezells have operated their Interlochen location since 2013, ceasing operation briefly in 2017 to update their paperwork when the state switched to its new permitting structure.
Ezell said he loves Petoskey and he and his wife visit often. They are based in the Traverse City area.
He confirmed he and the team working on the site plan have preliminary meetings with Tweeten and the city administration to prepare for the Dec. 17 city planning commission meeting.