Marijuana retailers went ahead with plans to open their doors for recreational sales and took precautions to deal with the threat of coronavirus.
WALLED LAKE — The coronavirus didn’t stop marijuana shops from opening their doors this weekend for a steady stream of people looking to score some legal weed.
The Greenhouse of Walled Lake, however, scaled back plans for a big grand opening party Saturday to mark the beginning of recreational sales with fireworks, food trucks, bands and a huge heated tent. The tent was to be used as a waiting area for what was expected to be long lines of people waiting to be among the first to buy recreational marijuana in Oakland County.
Most everything was canceled when it became clear that COVID-19 was going to put a damper on the high times. The tent remained up to check in people, but the long lines hadn’t really materialized as the doors opened at 9 a.m.
And there was plenty of hand sanitizer in the tent and at every selling station inside the shop.
“The opening today is soft because of the coronoavirus situation. It’s just not appropriate to have a celebration,” said Jerry Millen, owner of the marijuana shop. “People have been waiting for more than a year for the Greenhouse to open for recreational. The opening is smaller and more curtailed than we planned, but that’s okay. We’ll have a party this summer.”
Christopher Merics wasn’t going to wait until the summer to make a pot purchase.
“3:30 a.m.,” the Wixom resident said, proudly noting the time he got in line in downtown Walled Lake. “I just wanted to be the first legal sale in Oakland County.”
Merics started smoking pot in high school and said it was “incredible” to be able to buy marijuana legally. He wasn’t too worried about the potential spread of coronavirus. “I’ve always washed my hands.”
He actually wasn’t the first legal sale of recreational marijuana in Oakland County. That went to customers at Breeze in Hazel Park, which opened its doors last weekend.
Mike, who has been using marijuana off and on for 15 years, but didn’t want to give his last name, said common sense is key when venturing out during the threat of COVID-19.
“As long as you listen to what grandma and mom taught you — wash your hands and cough into your arm — you’ll be just fine,” he said, while waiting in line at Greenhouse.
At the Flower Bowl, an Inkster medical marijuana dispensary that added recreational sales on Friday, the first customer in the door wore a face mask.
“Every person gets a squirt of hand sanitizer when they come in,” said Moe Abbas, the general manager of the shop. “We’re wiping down everything with Lysol and limiting the number of people in the bud room.”
At Humblebee in the northern Michigan town of Frederic, recreational sales started this week, but one of the owners, Chris Norman, stayed home this weekend because she’s over 60.
And at Lume Cannabis Company, which started recreational sales on Wednesday in Big Rapids, added services are helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“This includes offering free delivery to customers over the age of 60 at our stores in Big Rapids, Honor and Evart, increased efforts to maintain the cleanliness of our stores and implementing a policy where customers can no longer touch or smell the cannapods that hold our flower,” said John Gregory, chief marketing officer of Lume Cannabis Company.
The shops joined dozens of other marijuana dispensaries in Michigan that have begun selling recreational marijuana to anyone 21 or older. Those sales started on Dec. 1 and 71 shops have been licensed by the state to sell legal weed, with at least 52 of those actually selling a variety of products from marijuana flower to concentrates and vapes to edibles and other infused products.
In the first three months of sales in Michigan, nearly $32 million in marijuana products have been sold, generating $5.3 million in revenue to the state from the 6% sales tax and the 10% excise tax.
Of the 52 shops that have opened around the state, only five are in metro Detroit – two in River Rouge, and one each in Inkster, Walled Lake and Hazel Park.
Macomb County is without any recreational marijuana shops because most of the county’s communities have decided they don’t want legal weed businesses in their communities. Clinton Township voters turned down a ballot proposal on Tuesday that would have allowed a dozen pot shops and up to 12 other types of marijuana businesses into the township. Harrison Township has agreed to allow marijuana growers into the township, but not retail shops.
According to an unofficial list developed by the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency, 1,425 communities have decided they don’t want marijuana businesses in their towns, while at least 42 have passed ordinances that will allow pot businesses. Many cities, including Detroit, decided against allowing in legal weed businesses until they can develop ordinances.
But several metro Detroit communities are either working on ordinances that will allow marijuana businesses or deciding which businesses will get permits, including Detroit, where 41 medical marijuana dispensaries already operate, Warren, Westland, Ferndale, and Pontiac. Others are waiting to see how the legal weed businesses are doing in other communities before deciding whether they’ll jump on the pot bandwagon.
Contact Kathleen Gray: 313-223-4430, email@example.com or on Twitter @michpoligal.
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