Michigan began sales of recreational cannabis Sunday and residents lined up in the cold, awaiting their chance to make purchases. State-licensed medical dispensaries that have the appropriate licensing will also be able to begin selling products to adults.
The Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) said that roughly 2,000 shoppers waited in at the small number of available stores, despite the poor weather. One shop, Exclusive Ann Arbor had a line of hundreds that stretched for blocks. At total of $221,000 was spent on Sunday, noted the MRA.
"The demand is already there and we're inching toward the supply that will meet demand," said Andrew Brisbo, the Director of the MRA.
A 78-year old poet named John Sinclair was the first customer. He had been arrested in 1969 for possession of two joints, now called pre-rolls. He spent almost three years in prison for what was then a crime. Sinclair bought 10 pre-rolls of Gorilla Glue No. 4 on Sunday. Ann Arbor is ground zero for cannabis consumers in the state. Four of the licensed six dispensaries are located in the city.
Anyone over the age of 21 with a valid ID can legally buy the drug and possess up to 2.5 ounces of it. They can have up to 10 ounces at home. Prices are said to be roughly $50 for an eighth of a gram and $17 per gram. By comparison, in California a gram can cost roughly $21, whereas in Florida it can cost $10, according to the website Price of Weed. Consumers didn't seem to have an issue with price as one dispensary sold out of flower by 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Despite the success of the medial marijuana program, only 22 communities have agreed to allow adult-use marijuana sales. It was the voters that pushed for recreational marijuana sales last year and the government has been slow to acquiesce to the voters' demands. More licenses are expected to be awarded throughout the year.
Some of the largest multi-state operators, or MSO's, were leading the race to get licenses within the state. The MRA noted that Cresco Labs (CRLBF) , which has a major presence in Illinois, has filed 30 applications. Privately held companies such as Verano Holdings filed for 18 and Grassroots filed for 14. Harvest Health & Recreation, which is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange as HARV, filed for 11 applications and Curaleaf (CURLF) wants eight.
Harvest Health is trying to acquire Verano, so that might affect the applications for the two companies. Shareholders approved the deal in June and despite delays, CEO Steve White said the deal was still on. It could close after Dec. 4.
Canaccord Genuity analyst Bobby Burleson has estimated that Michigan's sales could hit $1.5 billion in 2020. Michigan has also instigated a vape ban, but that hasn't seemed to put a damper on the launch.
According to Leaflink, the most popular flower purchase in the state is a strain called Skunkberry. The most popular companies are Mary's Medicinals, Claw and Platinum premium cannabis products. The leading unique product is called the Guilty Pleasures Milk Chocolate Fortune Crisp.