Legal Marijuana Sales Began In Michigan Sunday

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WWJ) -- Sunday marked an historic day in Michigan, as legal sales of recreational marijuana began taking place 13 months after voters approved to legalize it.

Three stores in Ann Arbor -- Exclusive Brands, Arbor Wellness and Greenstone Provisions -- were among the first in the state to make legal sales after Michigan became the 10th state to allow recreational sales.

The state's Marijuana Regulatory Agency is allowing growers and processors to transfer half of their medical inventory to the recreational side, so long as it has been tested, approved and on shelves for at least 30 days. As many businesses are still going through the licensing process and communities around metro Detroit have either blocked the sale of recreational marijuana or are working on specific ordinances, Ann Arbor is the nearest place to legally buy it for now.

Rick Thompson, who helped in the effort to legalize marijuana was among the first to purchase cannabis Sunday morning at Arbors Wellness.

"Victory has never felt so sweet as it does today," Thompson told WWJ. "There were a lot of jubilant faces. There are people giving high fives, a lot of people hugging each other as they heard their individual stories of perhaps being victimized by the drug war or their medical needs so they couldn’t get a recommendation for it. It was a coming together of individuals. It was beautiful."

Thompson says Michigan will not only benefit from the sale of "flower" products, but thinks hemp and CBD oils will also be popular.

Medical cannabis has been allowed for about 300,000 patients for more than a decade, but Sunday marks the first opportunity for people who were not medically qualified to purchase it legally. 

"So you can imagine people who have been cannabis enthusiasts for quite some time are interested in having their piece of history," Thompson said.

More than 1,400 Michigan communities have said no to allowing marijuana businesses in their towns, while fewer than 30 have officially approved ordinances to allow the businesses. Detroit, which has more than 40 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, is working on an ordinance to govern recreational businesses within the city.

Regulators and industry leaders warn that consumers will likely see high prices and product shortages in the early months.  In the meantime, companies are rushing to complete renovations at dispensaries, expand growing facilities and hire employees. 

The policy allowing the recreational use and sale of cannabis in the state does not allow Michiganders to smoke in public places and people are only allowed to have up to 2.5 ounces of pot on them at a time, and up to 10 ounces locked up in their homes. The use of marijuana in vehicles is still not allowed, but users are allowed to carry up to 2.5 ounces in their car and it is recommended to be stored in a bad or container, and secured in the glove box or trunk.