‘It doesn’t smell right.’ Michigan councilman linked to $69,000 marijuana real estate sale

posted on MLIVE

MENOMINEE, MI — Joseph S. Dulak has helped shape marijuana policy as a member of the city council in Menominee, a U.P. border town with a lucrative weed market.

Now, Dulak is facing criticism after a company he’s linked to benefited from the marijuana business. Public records reviewed by MLive show that a real estate firm linked to Dulak profited $69,000 in October from a property flip to a marijuana business.

While it’s not illegal or against the current ethics clause, some of his colleagues on council aren’t happy with how it appears.

Councilman Michael DeDamos, who opposed efforts by Dulak and the council majority to expand marijuana licensing, said the real estate deal may not be illegal or in violation of city ethics policy, but “it’s not going to look great to the public.”

“They already have their suspicions and innuendos,” he said, “so this will just confirm a lot of the public suspicion in the whisper networks.”

The marijuana deal comes amid a nearly four-year, highly scrutinized legal, political and commercial battle for a slice of the city’s cross-border marijuana profits.

Records indicate that Keeko, a limited liability corporation founded in 2015, sold a building and land at 1012 20th Avenue in Menominee to Upper Shelf Farms, which operates Elevated Exotics, a marijuana retail chain with stores in Escanaba and Republic and a grow facility in Mastodon Township.

Joseph M. Dulak, the councilman’s son, is listed as the president of Keeko, according the state business licensing records.

Keeko purchased the building for $160,000 on Sept. 28 from a Texas man and sold it for $229,000 on Oct. 4, according to property records.

When reached by phone on Monday, April 15, Councilman Dulak said the deal “rings a bell,” but said he would have to look into it.

He later emailed MLive the following statement: “I want to make it clear that I am neither the owner nor the president of Keeko LLC; my son holds that position. I have not made any commitments or promises regarding the use of properties for marijuana businesses, nor have I sought out any potential buyers with this intention.”

But court records reveal Councilman Dulak’s connection to Keeko. During a July 2023 court deposition in an unrelated lawsuit, Dulak said he is authorized to buy and sell property in Keeko’s name. During a separate deposition in the same lawsuit, Dulak’s son said “for the most part, the operations are handled by my father.”

Dulak’s email statement to MLive called the deal a “simple real estate matter.”

“Regrettably, some people continue to spread these inaccuracies, aiming to discredit me and sow distrust within the community,” he said. “However, I want to reiterate my unwavering dedication to serving the city of Menominee. I trust this statement resolves any misunderstandings.”

Dulak did not respond to follow-up calls or emails requesting further information and comment. He did not provide his son’s contact information and MLive was unable to reach Joseph M. Dulak for comment.

Upper Shelf Farms was granted a temporary occupancy permit to begin renovating the building, “as we do with many people,” but “I have not seen an application,” said City Manager Brett Botbyl. Kylie Schmid, the Elevated Exotics CEO, however, told MLive they expect to open this summer.

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