A budding industry: Inside Leoni Township’s medical marijuana boom


LEONI TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLNS) — Dozens of pot shop applications have been approved in Leoni Township with more under consideration. 


Some township residents are raising concerns about the growing medical marijuana industry in the community located in Jackson County.


At Choice Laboratories, business is smoking.  


“It’s been pretty busy,” said co-founder Michael Swartz.  


Choice is one of two dispensaries in Leoni Township to open since the township approved its medical marijuana ordinance last year.


“We’re very grateful to be able to provide this to our patients,” Swartz said.


While patients are excited to get medical cannabis in their own backyard, some residents feel the budding industry hits too close to home.


“They’re all alarmed to think this natural beauty might be spoiled,” said Eldonna Ruddock, a concerned Leoni resident.


Ruddock says plans are in the works for a marijuana growing operation just over her property line.


She’s concerned it will bring foul smells, crime, reduction in property values, and pollution. 


“The deck is stacked against small homeowners that object,” Ruddock said.


Choice is currently building its own marijuana growing facility on Ann Arbor Road.


The company’s founders say they’re creating a facility that’s within regulations, safe, environmentally friendly, and won’t disturb neighbors.


“I really think it’s all due to misinformation and not understanding the industry,” Swartz said.


“I don’t think it’s going to be the nuisance that people are expecting,” said co-founder Jason Lutz.


Some residents say they’re mostly upset with the way the township government is handling the ordinance.


At one point officials were pocketing thousands of dollars from application fees.


So far, they’ve approved nearly 50 applications for marijuana businesses, and dozens more are under consideration.


Ruddock says the weed boom is getting out of control.


“They need to enact as soon as possible a moratorium on the consideration of any further applications until this has really been vetted,” Ruddock said.


Leoni Township officials did not return messages for comment.


Right now there’s an effort to recall the township supervisor, clerk and treasurer over this issue.


The pot proprietors at Choice Laboratories say officials are working hard to legally grow business.


“They actually realized this could be beneficial for the community and they went out on a limb for us,” Lutz said.

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