High Time: Michigan Begins Recreational Marijuana Sales 13 Months After Vote

December 2, 2019by Breana Noble
The state of Michigan forecasts the recreational marijuana sales will total hundreds of millions of dollars in the first year. (Dreamstime/TNS)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan’s first legal recreational sales began around 10 a.m. Sunday, 13 months after voters approved a ballot measure allowing it.

Consumers from across Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania lined up outside provisioning centers to kick off what is expected to be one of the largest adult-use markets in the Midwest. The state of Michigan forecasts the sales will total hundreds of millions of dollars in the first year, though access will be limited at first.

Kelly Savage, 25, of Columbus, Ohio, was the first to purchase recreational marijuana from Exclusive Brands LLC’s shop in Ann Arbor. He arrived before the store closed Saturday to be the first in line.

“I wanted to be a part of history,” Savage, a landscaper, said before exchanging $480 in cash for an ounce of Platinum OG, a flower with a high content of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive element in marijuana known as THC. “It was worth it, even if it was just a half an ounce, it was worth it.”

Savage has Type 1 diabetes. He takes insulin as a correction, but the effects are not felt immediately: Marijuana “helps a lot,” he said.

Although the law Michigan voters passed in November 2018 legalized recreational marijuana for people over the age of 21, the state had a year to set up a system before it had to begin accepting business licenses on Dec. 6. It was early: The state issued its first recreational license to Exclusive on Nov. 15.

“I am proud of the hard work our team put in to implement the will of the voters, ahead of deadline,” Andrew Brisbo, executive director of the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, said in a statement.

More than 200 people lined up outside Exclusive ahead of 10 a.m., when retailers could begin transferring some of their medical inventory for recreational sale in the state’s marijuana tracking system.

Consumers likened the historic occasion to the Berlin Wall falling and said it was one step forward to legalizing marijuana nationally.

“I feel broke,” said Gregg Etzel, 67, of Ann Arbor, who arrived at 5 a.m. to purchase $280 of flower and wax, which he expects will last him at least a month. The cost, however, is worth it. “It got me off opioids. The withdrawal was awful. The doctors did that to me. With marijuana, there is no withdrawal.”

Etzel let his medical card expire on Nov. 1 to come Sunday “to be a part of history.”

But recreational marijuana is more expensive than medical marijuana. In addition to Michigan’s 6% sales tax, there is a 10% excise tax. The tax, however, is one of the lowest in the country. Some retailers also charge more for recreational marijuana.

Many in line Sunday said they had been using marijuana since they were teenagers. Many were glad to be able to make their purchases above board.

“I don’t have to go find someone on the street and worry where it’s from,” said Annie Marta, 29, of Detroit, who works in the medical field. “I’m making connections with knowledgeable people and not connections with people maybe I don’t want to be connected with.”

Added Rich Oliver, 31, of Grand Rapids, who arrived at 3 a.m. to buy $120 for eights of skunk berry and platinum sunshine flower: “It’s safe and tested. I know where it’s coming from. The stigma is essentially gone.”

Consumers can purchase up to 2.5 ounces at a time. Marijuana cannot be used in public, on school property or on federal lands. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. Employers still can fire or refuse to hire people who fail a drug test.

“It’s a historic day,” said Narmin Jarrous, vice president of business development for Exclusive. “This is a big step toward decriminalization within the state, which we support.”

Although businesses can transfer medical marijuana for recreational sale, Jarrous said access for patients to medical marijuana is a top concern for the company.

“If there are shortages with the recreational, people might be disappointed,” Jarrous said. “Access for our patients is our No. 1 priority.”

For now, though, Exclusive has stocked its shelves with marijuana available for adult-use sales.

Mo Orr, 46, of Pontiac was enthusiastic: “It’s like Christmas came early.”

———

© 2019 The Detroit News

Visit The Detroit News at www.detnews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

State News

Uncalled House Race in Iowa Grows Ever Tighter
2020 Elections
Uncalled House Race in Iowa Grows Ever Tighter
November 25, 2020
by Dan McCue

Throughout the 2020 election cycle a persistent narrative was just how divided the United States has become. But an as-yet uncalled House race in Iowa is taking the concept of a nation equally divided between Republicans and Democrats to a whole new level. Since Monday, the... Read More

Pennsylvania Suspends Alcohol Sales at Bars, Restaurants on Thanksgiving Eve
State News
Pennsylvania Suspends Alcohol Sales at Bars, Restaurants on Thanksgiving Eve
November 25, 2020
by Dan McCue

HARRISBURG, Pa. - It wasn't the kind of breaking news one expected while scanning Pennsylvania's all news radio stations for word on the state certifying the 2020 election results. "Now back to our top story," one news anchor after another said over the course of the... Read More

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Certifies Presidential Election Results
2020 Elections
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Certifies Presidential Election Results
November 24, 2020
by Dan McCue

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Bookvar certified the results of the 2020 presidential election Tuesday, after all 67 counties in the state certified their individual results late Monday night. A short time later, as required by federal law, Gov. Tom Wolf signed the... Read More

Wisconsin Presidential Recount in 4th Day, With Few Changes
State News
Wisconsin Presidential Recount in 4th Day, With Few Changes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin's partial presidential recount entered its fourth day Monday, with very few changes in vote totals as President Donald Trump's attorneys appeared to be focused on a legal challenge seeking to toss tens of thousands of ballots, including the one cast by... Read More

Gov. Evers Announces One Million N95 Masks Shipped for Wisconsin’s Distribution System
State News
Gov. Evers Announces One Million N95 Masks Shipped for Wisconsin’s Distribution System
November 23, 2020
by Sara Wilkerson

Today, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said the state has shipped its one-millionth N95 mask as part of ongoing efforts to ensure frontline workers have access to the critical personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to limit their exposure to COVID-19. The announcement comes after Evers recently... Read More

Gov. Murphy Announces $161 Million in Grants for NJ Municipalities
State News
Gov. Murphy Announces $161 Million in Grants for NJ Municipalities
November 23, 2020
by Sara Wilkerson

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy recently announced that the New Jersey Department of Transportation will be awarding $161.25 million in municipal aid grants to advance road, bridge, safety, and quality-of-life improvements. Over 540 cities and towns throughout the state will benefit from the grant funds.  “These... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top