LOWELL, MI — More than 100 people lined up Friday afternoon to purchase some of the first legal recreational marijuana sold in Kent County.
First in line was Val Miller, who arrived a little more than an hour before the 4:20 p.m. Friday, March 13, opening at Meds Cafe in Lowell.
The 69-year-old Lakeview resident and longtime marijuana smoker said he never thought he’d see the day when marijuana was sold in stores.
“It feels good,” he said. “It’s a free country.”
Also in line was Fredrick Miller, “The Stoner from Michigan.” The New Paris, Indiana resident appeared in January on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” after a humorous interview with a local TV station at the opening of a dispensary in Niles went viral.
“It’s like a candy store — anything that you could possibly want,” Miller said of Meds Cafe. “I imagine that everyone who steps in there is going to take their time and … window shop a little bit, because there’s weed in there I haven’t even heard of before, man.”
Miller was paid by Meds Cafe to attend the opening, he said.
“I couldn’t have ever imagined this happening to me, so I am super thankful,” he said. “Its been a great opportunity. I get to be myself and hang out with people.”
Meds Cafe opened Friday with 16 strains of marijuana flower, some edibles, THC extracts, smoking paraphernalia and more.
Despite coronavirus concerns, two other West Michigan recreational marijuana shops — KKind in Kalamazoo Township and Bella Sol Wellness Centers in Muskegon — opened Friday as well.
Meds Cafe staff encouraged anyone with symptoms to remain home and ensured crowds were under 250 people. Certain types of gatherings of more than 250 people are prohibited in Michigan, per an executive order signed Friday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
As of Friday, 16 positive cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Michigan. Whitmer has declared a state of emergency and ordered all K-12 school buildings to close from March 16 through April 5.
Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack, who represents a portion of Grand Rapids, was in attendance for what he called a “historic” day.
“It’s just good to see this underground industry finally be regulated,” Womack said. “Our citizens are going to travel to buy it, so we might as well have them here where the taxes can go back into public safety, education and things that can help them and their children here in our county.”
Meds Cafe officials estimate they’ll hire around 20 employees. Scott Schroeder and Michael Atkins, the founders and owners of Meds Cafe, have one other Meds Cafe location. That dispensary is located near Rogers City.
The only other city in Kent County currently allowing recreational marijuana facilities is Grand Rapids. City leaders won’t be taking license applications for recreational marijuana shops until at least April 20, 2020.
Grand Rapids only has one medical marijuana provisioning center open for business.