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MUSKEGON, MI – Near the intersection of Park Street and Laketon Avenue in an old trucking depot on the southside of Muskegon is the city’s first state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary — and it is now serving eligible patients. The dispensary, Park Place Provisionary, located at 1922 Park Street, quietly opened for business Monday. A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, June 21.

It is owned by Agri-Med, a company created by local businessman and Muskegon resident Greg Maki, who also owns Eastside Auto Parts, 10951 E Apple Ave., in Ravenna. It is the only dispensary in Muskegon County that has been approved by the state’s Licensing and Regulatory Affairs office, according to LARA’s medical marijuana license database. It also is a sign of life for the area south of Laketon Avenue that was designated last year as the city’s medical marijuana overlay district. The district was chosen because the city wanted to help reactivate vacant industrial space in the area between Seaway Drive and Park Street on the west and east, and Hackley Avenue and Young Avenue on the south and north.

Maki, 63, runs Agri-Med along with his business partner Tracy Powers and his nephew, CFO Aaron Smith. His two sons, Greg and Drew Maki also work at the store.

“We’re West Michigan residents, and the whole family is here,” Smith said. “We have a good idea of what people in West Michigan are like and how they want a business to be run. We pride ourselves on the fact that we’re hiring local, training local and sourcing locally for our product.

Maki also is in the process of getting a state license to grow his own product to be sold in the store. The plants also would supply a second planned location in Nunica that Maki said he hopes to open soon.After 14 years in the auto sales trade, Maki said he never imagined that he would be involved in the medical marijuana industry, as a grower, dispensary owner or both.

“Up until two years ago, I would have said, ‘No, I’m busy with my other businesses,’” Maki told MLive/Muskegon Chronicle.But as a budding pot entrepreneur, Maki said he wants to help Muskegon-area and West Michigan medical marijuana patients – and veterans in particular – procure their medicine locally. Helping those patients curb potential opioid addictions was another reason guiding Maki’s decision to open the shop, he said.Upon arriving at Park Place Provisionary, patients will find a comely, dark brick building complete with new landscaping, a freshly paved parking lot and a large company sign hanging over a stark black doorway.At first glance, it is unremarkable, and looks more like a doctor’s office. But a closer look reveals a glowing green cross in the window, signaling to patients that they have arrived at their intended destination.Maki said he purchased the building, which was erected in the 1940s, because it had a unique, Muskegon feel and “good bones.”

The building has since been renovated with new fixtures, a waiting room, a sales floor and a safety buffer zone between front half of the building and the rear warehouse space where Maki and Smith hope to grow marijuana crops. “Walking in here for the first time (when renovations were complete), it was a natural rush,” Maki said. “It took us two years to get here.

I don’t know if I should say this, but the most important (events in my life) were the birth of my two sons and opening this. “A lot of hard labor went into this, every day driving back and forth all over the state. But the harder something is, the more rewarding it seems to be.” The store also been outfitted with a state-of-the-art security system to prevent theft or break-ins. The store-wide camera system includes features like facial recognition technology, so Maki and his staff can easily identify patients should they cause a problem at the store. “We’re trying to prepare for everything,” Maki said. “I think that’s what sets us apart.” As first-time dispensary owners, Maki, Smith and their staff have been educating themselves on the ins and outs of how to help patients pick products that are right for them.

After signing in and getting a visitor pass, patients are escorted to the waiting room where there is a video screen detailing the store’s menu. Eventually, patients are greeted by one of Maki’s so-called “budtenders” and taken into the sales area. The dispensary has over 50 medical marijuana products, including smokeable marijuana buds, edibles, tinctures, oils, patches, extracts and cartridges for vaporizer pens and similar devices, Smith said. Most of their product line was modeled after what’s popular in other dispensaries that Maki and Smith visited in West Michigan and beyond, including those in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

The product line is ever evolving, Smith said. If they don’t have what patients want, they’ll look into purchasing that product. The district that houses Park Place Provisionary will soon have other growers and possibly more state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. The city created the district with the purpose of revitalizing its southern border with Muskegon Heights as it continues to upgrade its burgeoning downtown. The city also is weighing whether it should allow recreational marijuana dispensaries since voters last year approved a ballot measure legalize the recreational use of the plant and other marijuana-infused products. Park Place Provisionary would have to apply for another state license if it wants to sell recreational pot, but it’s something the owners are considering. Should other dispensaries crop up over the next few years, Maki and Smith said they’re ready to welcome them with open arms. “The city has been great in helping us get to this point,” Smith said. “And the majority of other marijuana businesses have ben supportive and are interested helping us. And we’ve been supportive of them. “We just want to see everyone succeed in this business.”