Lighting violations shut down cannabis shop

April 19, 2023
The hard knocks of the trade keep coming from unexpected new angles.

In a different twist to the rough and tumble of the cannabis trade, a Michigan city council last month shut down a new retail shop for lighting violations, forcing changes that have now allowed reopening.

The lighting had nothing to do with the growing of cannabis, which is a huge focus of attention for the LED trade, and which we often report. In this case, the small city of Gaylord in Northern Michigan alerted the latest outlet of the Exclusive Brands cannabis chain that the new premises violated exterior lighting regulations.

William Paul Slough, an attorney for the city, informed Exclusive of the breach on March 28, eleven days after Exclusive opened the shop, the newest of nine locations that Exclusive operates across the state.

“The first issue that Mr. Slough raised in his letter was that Exclusive Brands was not in compliance with the photometric plan submitted by the city,” wrote an attorney representing Exclusive in an April 7 letter of appeal to the city council, which LEDs Magazine accessed via the city’s website. “It is our understanding that there were two specific items of noncompliance: (1) not having installed the required shades over exterior facility lights; and (2) not having installed a required light pole in the facility parking lot.”

The infraction came as a surprise to Exclusive, given the information it had received from both its electrical contractor and the city council.

“Based on prior communications with its electricians, Exclusive Brands believed that the exterior lighting issues had been rectified weeks ago,” wrote the attorney, Lansing-based Douglas E. Mains with the law firm Honigman LLP. “This belief was advanced by the fact that Exclusive Brands did not receive any additional communication from the City to the contrary until receiving Mr. Slough’s letter. Upon learning from Mr. Slough’s letter that this was not the case, Exclusive Brands attempted to remedy the situation as expediently as possible and, as of April 4, 2023, the required shoebox covers for the exterior lighting were installed.”

Mains also said in the appeal that upon learning of the transgressions, Exclusive fired its previous electrical firm and hired Gaylord-based Dash Electric and Kalkaska, Mich.–based Matts Underground Utility Construction to lay cable and install a light post.

The measures seem to have satisfied city councilors, who convened for a regular twice-monthly meeting last week, when they considered the appeal.

“Council approved the reinstatement of the license for Exclusive Brands,” reported the local Gaylord Herald Times, partnered with the Petoskey News-Review. “City treasurer Travis Hewitt, who also serves as zoning administrator, told council that Exclusive now had a lighting system that was compliant with the city's marijuana ordinance and urged council to end the license revocation.”

The council had also cited Exclusive for three other contraventions related to curbside dispensing, signage, and the use of a tent in the parking lot for opening day festivities, all of which Exclusive has addressed.

The Gaylord branch webpage, which was inaccessible early last week when LEDs previously checked, is now up and running.

The episode served as a reminder to anyone in the cannabis lighting business that the industry is full of regulatory hard knocks on the state and federal level — on top of such local ordinances —

that can affect the entire value chain and can make it difficult to obtain banking services.

Coincidentally or not, one of the first times that LEDs reported on this theme was from the state of Michigan, the same state as the recent temporary shutdown of the Exclusive branch.

Exclusive appears to be undeterred, as it is planning to open a tenth store soon, in Oxford, Mich.

Meanwhile, the cannabis industry in general has been slipping, thus impacting the adoption of LED lighting technology.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.