Marijuana in Michigan: Doobie's Tavern puts small town in a cannabis conundrum

Marijuana in Michigan: Doobie's Tavern puts small town in a cannabis conundrum

By Eric Lacy

A small town in Clinton County, one its village manager says has more cows than people, finds itself at a cannabis crossroads.

Two people recently opened Doobie's Tavern, a marijuana social club with a strict BYOB (bring your own bud) policy. 

While it's generated buzz on social media, Doobie's has also raised concerns among residents in Elsie, which has a population of fewer than 1,000 people, that their community will never be the same.

“It’s bringing the big city to a small town," Elsie Village Manager Shane Grinnell said. "And that can be good — or bad.”

Elsie's Village Council will meet 7 p.m. Tuesday at Duplain Township Hall, 145 W. Main St., to discuss an ordinance that could set limitations on private clubs downtown. It could affect the future of Doobie's.

Doobie's drew about 40 people to its March 2 "soft opening," with about half of them being Elsie residents, said Oakley resident Cynthia Bell, one of its co-founders. 

As of Thursday, village officials had not received any complaints about Doobie's at 100 E. Main St., Grinnell said. He also serves as an Elsie Area Fire Department captain. 

Messages left for Joe Spagnuolo, Elsie's police chief, weren't returned. 

Bell and Mike Karl, of Eaton Rapids, have already spent thousands of dollars to create the club, occupying the second floor of a two-story building that houses a motorcycle club called The Sinister Sisters.

They're building a bar area that will serve non-alcoholic drinks and snacks, a dance floor and a lounge that will include an area for video game playing. And they are determined to open more Doobie's throughout the state.

"Bring some attention to this town," Bell said of her goal in Elsie. "It's just dead here. There's nothing here anymore." 

Bell owns the building within a business district surrounded by several vacant storefronts.

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