Pot of money? Medical cannabis revenue difficult for southwest Michigan communities to predict

If he had a crystal ball at Buchanan City Hall, City Manager Bill Marx would do what any municipal administrator might do: He’d peer into it to see the city’s future financial condition.

Specifically, he’d like to look ahead three years to see the amount of revenue medical marijuana brings.

But as it stands now, Marx’s predictions are ambiguous.

He knows what the potential revenue streams for medical marijuana are. They include business permit fees, and excise and property taxes. But it’s unclear how much they all might add up to as the new state commercial industry for medical marijuana gets off the ground this year. Businesses are still taking shape, and the state has yet to approve any operator permits.

One thing Marx has said all along, though, is that he doesn’t think medical marijuana will be a “cash cow” for the city.

Sanya Vitale, community development director for the city of Niles, agrees.

“We’ve talked to other communities in the state of Michigan and we’re all kind of on the same page,” Vitale said. “Everybody kind of laughs and scoffs when they say this is a moneymaker. No, it’s not.”

In Galien Township, medical marijuana businesses may not be enough to reverse the fortunes of a small community that in recent years has seen its schools, its grocery and its bank all shuttered. But officials have said they hope to at least increase the tax base and the number of good-paying jobs.

Despite the ‘wait-and-see’ approach being taken by local officials, recent studies show there is a lot of green to be made from those green plants.

One state analysis projected up

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