Michigan is the most recent state to legalize recreational cannabis. December 1st marked the first official day adults can purchase cannabis for recreational purposes. Previously only medical marijuana could be purchased in the state. Despite the majority of the state rejecting recreational cannabis sales, the numbers prove this to be a beneficial move for Michigan.
According to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), after the first day of sales, the state racked in $221,000 in sales. This number doesn’t include the $22,100 generated from excise tax or the $14,586 generated from sales tax. These taxes make up ten percent and six percent of the overall sales, respectively.
The relatively low total is a result of only 2,200 people purchasing cannabis. Only a few stores statewide were able to successfully open on the first day. All located in Ann Arbor, some of the retailers that were open include Arbors Wellness, Greenstone Provisions, and Exclusive Brands. This comes as a result of 79 percent of Michigan banning the sale of recreational use of cannabis.
“I saw the coverage of the lines and I think that was what we expected,” Andrew Brisbo said, Director of the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency Andrew Brisbo said. “The demand is already there and we’re inching toward the supply that will meet that demand.”
Many Michigan cities, including Detroit, believe the sale of recreational marijuana would only promote the war on drugs. Another reason why so many cities are reluctant to allow recreational cannabis is because of the recent vape crisis. 2,290 people have fallen ill to illegally manufactured vape products, with nearly 50 fatalities. As a result, Michigan has continued to ban all vape products throughout the state.
Comparing the Competition
Last year, Massachusetts sold $440,011 from two stores on the first day of legal cannabis sales, according to the state Cannabis Control Commission. Like Michigan, Massachusetts has also banned all vaping products. What Massachusetts didn’t have to worry about was their limited supply. Much more of Massachusetts allows the sale of recreational cannabis, compared to Michigan. In fact, Massachusetts is planning to lift its ban on vape products, despite recently banning all menthol-flavored smoking products. Nonetheless, those who were able to capitalize on this opportunity believe this still a step in the right direction.
“We’re very happy with everything,” said James Daly, owner of Arbors Wellness. “Everything ran smoothly, the team did a great job and the vibe was very positive.”
Michigan can expect their sales to increase once cities lift the ban on the sale of recreational cannabis. Colorado made history this year by making over $1 billion in state revenue from cannabis sales. Michigan has a long way to go to reach that milestone. The state really has to figure out how to properly allocate the revenue back into communities that need it. Until then, Michigan will slowly rack in more cannabis sale, despite the limited supply.