Recreational pot sales set for Sunday, but approved retailers will be few – Crain's Detroit Business


Recreational marijuana sales begin Sunday, and at least three dispensaries will be open to consumers — all in Ann Arbor.

Greenstone Provisions on South Ashley Street, Arbors Wellness on East Liberty and Exclusive Provisioning Centers on Varsity Drive are expected to be open Dec. 1 with at least some product available to users without a medical marijuana patient card.

A total of 18 recreational marijuana licenses were approved as of late Wednesday afternoon, according to the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency. Of those, six are for retailers, including three added Wednesday: Lit Provisioning Centers/Lume Cannabis Co. in Evart, Green Peak Innovations/Skymint in Ann Arbor and Michigan Supply and Provisions in Morenci.

The agency also has approved adult-use recreational licenses for eight non-storefront marijuana businesses. Exclusive Provisioning received two of those licenses for its processing and grow operation in Ann Arbor. The others are: Arbor Kitchen LLC, a processor in Ann Arbor; Kalkaska-based Real Life Solutions, a cannabis-focused event organizer; Precision Safety Innovation Laboratories LLC in Ann Arbor; Greenline Express in Ann Arbor, a marijuana transporter; and six for Green Peak Innovations in Dimondale for growing and processing operations.

Greenstone Provisions plans to open at 10 a.m. Sunday, two hours earlier than normal, to accommodate demand, said Maggie Smith, manager of the dispensary.

Despite expected long wait times and lines due to the limited number of dispensaries open Sunday, Smith expects Greenstone Provisions to have enough product to supply demand.

When the state surprised the industry by moving the date from January 2020 to Dec. 1, it made adjustments to allow retailers to meet demand. Retailers are allowed to transfer 50 percent of the product that’s been held in inventory for at least 30 days from medical marijuana to adult-use recreational marijuana.

“I’d say we should be able to handle both our medical and the influx of recreational that day,” Smith said. “We definitely don’t have as much (product) as we want to have. Everyone is scrambling to get enough product.”

Despite getting a license Wednesday, Skymint Ann Arbor will not open Sunday, said Joe Neller, co-founder and chief government affairs officer for Green Peak Innovations. “We got our recreational license today and need to order the adult use recreational tags for the product. The process will put us past the Dec. 1 start,” he said in a statement.

The supply chain is not fully developed as it takes several months to grow, process and distribute marijuana products. Medical marijuana supply has been constrained for months and with licensed growers and processors able to shift half of their medical supply over to recreational, the shortage is only expected to continue.

Since announcing the emergency rules earlier this month, prices for legal marijuana have climbed as high as 50 percent, according to Stuart Carter, owner of Utopia Gardens in Detroit.

“The already extremely tight supply of medical marijuana has been cut in half as the growers now earmark half their crops to rec,” Carter told Crain’s in an email. “This has exacerbated an already short supply for the medical provisioning centers and because the supply and demand curve became artificially skewed by this development, the pricing has increased dramatically. The average wholesale cost of one pound of (marijuana) flower has risen overnight from $3,000 to $4,500.”

Compounding the issue is the state’s temporary halt of marijuana vape sales amid dozens of deaths linked to vape use, particularly among black market products. The agency is requiring dispensaries and manufacturers to test a sample of each batch of existing marijuana vape cartridges, about 1.5 percent of all existing product, Harns confirmed.

Under the new rules, the MRA will inspect processing facilities twice a month to ensure testing for vitamin E acetate, the believed culprit in the outbreak of vaping-related illness that has sickened more than 2,100 people across the U.S. and killed 42, including two in Michigan.

The synthetic chemical is an oily chemical added by some to thicken and dilute marijuana-vaping liquids. It’s commonly used in skin creams and other supplements, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes its introduction into the lungs of vape users is interfering with the users’ respiratory function.

The testing is expected to take up to 90 days.

Smith said marijuana vape products accounted for roughly 30 percent of Greenstone Provisions’ sales.

“It’s definitely a concern,” Smith said. “They provided a lot of convenience and ease and our customers liked them. A lot of people are upset, so we’re hoping the testing moves faster than anticipated.”

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