On a historic Sunday in Michigan, residents lined the streets for access to buy legal recreational marijuana for the first time.
Michigan made history on Sunday by opening legal access to buy recreational marijuana for the first time. An estimated 2,000-plus people waiting in line for the cannabis launch on the cold December morning.
Three stores opened for business in the city of Ann Arbor. Arbors Wellness opened its doors at 9 a.m. servicing medical marijuana patients first. Al Moroz, store manager, told the Michigan Daily he wasn’t at all surprised by the number of people waiting in line outside.
“We’ve had phones literally calling about recreational sales of marijuana since the first of the year — ever since basically Michigan voted to allow recreational possession of cannabis, people have been expecting us to sell it,” Moroz told the Michigan Daily.
A few days before the launch, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced licensed retailers could transfer up to 50 percent of their medical cannabis inventory from the past month to use as recreational inventory.
“We’re very happy that we’re able to sell it today. We’ve been seeing a lot of interest all week, basically since they made the announcement about transferring inventory, so we’re not really surprised by the crowds, but it’s still a great thing to see,” Moroz added.
While many towns, roughly 80 percent, in the state decided to opt-out on marijuana access, many were surprised when Detroit’s City Council approved a ban on recreational marijuana in the city. Some reports indicate the ban may only be temporary.
Six stores have received recreational licenses so far, but not all opened on launch day. Four stores are in Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, one store is in Evart, and one in Morenci.
At the end of the day, more than 2,200 people spent roughly $221,000 across the open dispensaries.
To add to the historic day, Moroz said the store’s first recreational purchases went to two renowned Michigan marijuana advocates, Lansing resident Ryan Basore and Flint native John Sinclair. Both men have spent time in jail for marijuana convictions.
Sinclair’s infamous “two-joint bust” in 1969 and 10-year sentence sparked protests leading to a 1971 concert held at the University of Michigan featuring John Lennon. Following the event dubbed the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, Sinclair was released early.
Michigan’s Road to Recreational Use Legalization
With the launch of its recreational use marijuana market on Dec. 1, Michigan joins roughly 10 other states to allow the sale of cannabis to adults 21 and older. In November 2018, Michigan became the first Midwestern state to legalize adult-use cannabis with the passage of a ballot initiative, Proposal 1. The law makes it legal for adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis.
Proposal 1 also allows for licensing of businesses to grow, process, test, transport, and sell marijuana. Michigan state imposes a 10 percent excise tax and 6 percent sales tax, generating revenue for local governments, education, and infrastructure expenses. Individual municipalities will have the right to keep marijuana use illegal and ban commercial markets.
The use of marijuana for medical purposes was made legal in Michigan in 2008.