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Michigan town's pot bonanza turns into a marijuana melee over corruption claims

Francis X. Donnelly, The Detroit News on

Published in News & Features

Rize and The Fire Station filed a state lawsuit against the city that is scheduled to go to trial on May 13 in Menominee Circuit Court.

“We won our license fair and square,” said Mike Cox, a former Michigan attorney general who is representing Rize. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years. Generally, when you reach a deal with the attorneys, it happens. But rarely do things happen in Menominee the way they do in the rest of the state.”

Mayor Casey Hoffman, who was elected in November, defended the council’s decision to increase the number of dispensaries. Council members did so to raise tax revenue, not to benefit themselves, he said.

“This conduct is beneath the dignity of Rize and The Fire Station,” Hoffman said.

The legal dispute has grown increasingly personal. The brash Hoffman said he is legally “wiping the floor” with Cox, while the former attorney general has ridiculed Hoffman, 34, a law school graduate, for failing to pass his bar exam.

Menominee Mayor Casey Hoffman has defended the City Council's decision to change course and allow more marijuana dispensaries in the city and criticized the two original winning applicants for suing to stop an open market.


Other critics of the City Council are its own staff. In a rare public spectacle, the city manager and lawyer have openly chastised council members, who are their bosses, for negotiating directly with the losing applicants while they were suing the city, according to meeting minutes.

It's all about the money

The source of all this consternation is money, lots of money.

One might wonder how such a small town could support all the dispensaries: five open, three preparing to, still others thinking about it.


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