First medical marijuana dispensary opens in Niles

NILES, Mich. (WNDU) - The first medical marijuana dispensary in the city of Niles is up and running in an inconspicuous place.

Odds are, you won’t see it unless you go looking for it.

The ReLeaf Center for Compassionate Healthcare is a retail island in a sea of factories, but there’s a good reason why the company set up shop in the middle of the city’s industrial park.

There’s room to grow in the 20,000-square-foot former factory building that is now dedicated to raising 50 different strains of cannabis.

“We’re doing everything here, so it’s basically a farm-to-table operation. So, everything from cultivating it, processing it and then retail is all at the same location,” cultivation manager Mike Lumetta said. “We’re allowed to deliver it to ourselves, so we just carry it from the back to the front, and the streamlined process allows us to keep top-notch medicine and have good controls and keep the prices down here.”

While big business is bound to eventually take place here, Lumetta and his wife added a mom-and-pop touch by making the marijuana-shaped cookies for Friday's grand opening ceremonies.

There are about 10 employees now on staff chasing a new career on a new frontier.

“So, I graduated with a degree in criminal justice, and I was very interested in studying, you know, how the legalization process was affecting crime,” ReLeaf’s Tyler Trembczynski said. “For a long time we were misfed information about marijuana and health, and now that we're getting better educated and things are becoming legal, it is better than it used to be.”

Mike Lumetta has worked as a caregiver-grower since Michigan set up its medical marijuana program. He has a chemistry background and now commutes to his new job from Romeo, Michigan, in Macomb County.

The ReLeaf Center is located at 1840 Terminal Road in Niles.