Pot business proposal hazy after Niles puts freeze on new applications

NILES — A moratorium on new pot businesses may not necessarily mean one local company’s hope for a medical marijuana business is dead.

At least one partner in HDS Investments said he’s willing to keep working with the city, and one city official said the HDS plan might still have some life to it despite the new moratorium.

But the fate of the business’s plan is a little unclear.

The city council Monday night unanimously approved an approximately six-month moratorium on taking new medical marijuana business applications.

The move comes as city staff continue to field five to 20 phone calls every week from potential marijuana businesses, and as the state gears up to put recreational marijuana on the ballot in November.

City Administrator Ric Huff said he is concerned over where the state is headed in the next six months with recreational marijuana, and that it’s unclear how recreational pot, if approved, could affect the medical marijuana commercial system that is going into effect this year.

The state in 2016 adopted a commercial system for medical marijuana and let communities decide whether to opt into it by adopting their own ordinances. In Berrien County, Niles and a handful of other communities opted in.

The city’s moratorium is for 180 days, so it will expire not long after the Nov. 6 election, unless the council rescinds it before then.

Meanwhile, HDS Investments, a group of three area investors, last month proposed buying an empty, city-owned parcel at the corner of Lake and 13th streets for a medical marijuana growing operation.

HDS wants to obtain a Class C growing permit for 1,500 plants and is

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