Green Sunday: Hundreds line up at few stores open for 1st day of recreational marijuana sales – Crain's Detroit Business


The three Ann Arbor provisioning centers licensed and open for the first day of legal retail sales of recreational marijuana in Michigan saw lines of customers hundreds deep Sunday.

Inventory appeared to be holding up well through the first few hours of sales, which began shortly after 10 a.m. At that time, the retailers were legally allowed to legally reclassify existing inventory of medical marijuana to “adult-use” sales.

Ann Arbor’s Greenstone Provisions on South Ashley Street, Arbors Wellness on East Liberty and Exclusive Provisioning Centers on Varsity Drive were the only retailers selling recreational marijuana in Southeast Michigan.

And the crowds snaking down sidewalks and around buildings — all day long — indicated that the state’s first licensees were benefiting from the brief period of exclusivity.

As many as 200 people were still in line at Greenstone Provisions at 5 p.m. Sunday, said Bartek Kupczyk, part-owner of the dispensary.

“It’s been pandemonium,” Kupczyk said. “We keep telling them not to waste their time because we won’t get to them before we close, but they are holding out hope.”

The store is required to close at 8 p.m. in accordance with Ann Arbor regulations.

Kupczyk said the store had served more than 200 customers since opening at 10 a.m. and expects to see high traffic until the shop, ensconced in a former residential home on Ashley Street, runs out of cannabis flower later this week amid a marijuana shortage.

The state allowed all dispensaries to transfer half of their medical marijuana stock to adult-use recreational, but that’s not expected to satiate demand.

“At some point, in the next week we’re going to end up running out,” Kupczyk said. “It’s going to be a struggle. There’s just limited cultivators and producers right now.”

To sustain operations for as long as possible, Greenstone Provisions is limiting customers to seven grams of marijuana per visit.

When the state surprised the industry by moving the date from January 2020 to Dec. 1, it said retailers would be allowed to transfer 50 percent of the product they had held in inventory for at least 30 days from medical marijuana to adult-use recreational marijuana.

That process involved physically swapping out state-issued tags required on each product. It also limits stores’ potential inventory to what they had on hand when they started selling.

At Exclusive Brands, situated away from downtown Ann Arbor in an industrial park off Packard Drive, more than 500 customers were lined up to get at cannabis products ranging from sativa flower to gummies.

To serve them were about 15 employees, who kicked the day off with a team huddle at 9 a.m., manager Jessica Johnson said.

The store processed about 100 customers per hour at its grand opening for medical marijuana and additional staffing on Sunday would likely allow the center to surpass that rate.

“It’s insane,” Johnson said.

To prepare, the store stocked up on product and doubled the number of computers it has installed to record sales and state-required information on inventory. Johnson said the provisioning center was optimistic it had enough products to sell to serve the hundreds of customers outside.

The store had both products for sale to medical marijuana patients and the general public in the same well-lit room.

An array of cannabis flower was being sold for $20 a gram and $60 for an eighth-ounce, with prices slightly higher than for medical product. Recreational marijuana is also subject to a 10 percent tax that doesn’t apply to medical cannabis.

The very first customer at Arbors was made at 9:50 a.m. to poet and cannabis activist John Sinclair, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Another customer at the store, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said he already had a medical marijuana card but decided to line up at 6:30 a.m. Sunday to be part of the hoopla and history, a viewpoint echoed by many customers.

“I just wanted to be part of it,” he said. He said prices appeared a little higher for recreational products than for medical.

Still, he bought a pre-rolled joint, a box of sugar-free gummies and a tin of infused candies. The total: $63.

Though inventory was holding out well in the early going, it will take months for a supply chain to fully develop because it takes several months to grow, process and distribute marijuana products.

More retailers plan to open in coming weeks. Three others have been licensed: Lit Provisioning Centers/Lume Cannabis Co. in Evart, Green Peak Innovations/Skymint in Ann Arbor and Michigan Supply and Provisions in Morenci.

The state’s Marijuana Regulatory 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.

A spokeswoman for Green Peak said Sunday that it was still finalizing when it would begin recreational sales at its Skymint provisioning center in Ann Arbor, but expects to start selling sometime in the coming week.

Ann Arbor, the home of the Hash Bash event that long promoted legalization of marijuana, is in a minority of cities that are allowing recreational marijuana sales. More than 80 percent of the municipalities in Michigan have opted out or are taking a wait-and-see approach on whether to opt in.

More than 1,400 of Michigan’s nearly 1,800 cities, townships and villages are not allowing recreational businesses. Even Detroit, home to the most medical dispensaries in the state, has delayed recreational sales until at least Jan. 31.

“This is brand new for a lot of municipalities. I think it’s important that they are doing their due diligence and taking an approach that honors the will of their people,” Andrew Brisbo, executive director of the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, told The Associated Press. He said he expects adult sales to occur in “some consistent form” at a greater number of Michigan locations by the end of March.

Michigan voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana for people over 21 at the polls in November 2018.

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