Michigan retail cannabis sales start Dec. 1: Here’s what you need to know
Update Nov. 30, 2019: MIRA, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency, has announced it will allow licensed stores to start transferring medical cannabis inventory into adult-use inventory at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1.
As of late Saturday, Nov. 30, it looks like the stores listed below will begin adult-use sales at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1.
Michigan’s cannabis stores are set to start adult-use sales on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019.
Want to buy legal cannabis on opening day? Head to Ann Arbor.
That’s much earlier than originally planned, which is good news for cannabis consumers. But the new start date means there will be few stores open for business on day one. Over time more stores will open, but product availability and retail outlets may be limited at first.
It’s all a bit confusing—which is completely normal for a newly legal state. Here’s what you need to know.
Who can open on Dec. 1?
So far we know of six dispensaries permitted to begin adult-use sales on Dec. 1—and four are in Ann Arbor. Leafly has confirmed that Exclusive Brands will be open and selling cannabis to all adults 21 and older starting at 10 a.m. on Dec. 1.
The day’s emotional high point may be provided by the folks at Arbors Wellness, who are hosting a ceremonial first sale at 10 a.m. Sunday to John Sinclair, Michigan’s cannabis pioneer and folk hero.
John Sinclair, Michigan's cannabis pioneer and folk hero, will make the first purchase at 10 a.m. Sunday in Ann Arbor.
A leading political activist in the sixties and seventies, in 1969 Sinclair was busted for giving two joints to an undercover cop. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. He became the focus of protest and rallies, including one of the very first “concert for a cause” events, the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, in Ann Arbor on Dec. 10, 1971. Check out more in this documentary, or this one, or this one.
Will more stores open eventually?
Yes. The first adult-use retail licenses are being issued to existing provisioning centers (Michigan’s unique term for medical cannabis dispensaries), but it’s a slow process. Stores that have their adult-use license are able to use up to half their existing medically-approved inventory to serve adult-use customers.
Only three stores are ready now, but dozens more are working their way through the state licensing process. They will be getting final, “qualified” status as the next few months roll out. To see if you’ll have one near you, check out the map of qualified and soon-to-be-qualified dispensaries around the state.
Any in Detroit?
Maybe. The Detroit City Council recently enacted a temporary moratorium on adult-use cannabis stores, ostensibly to give the city more time to craft regulations.
Stores may open in Detroit on Dec. 1 despite the city's moratorium. But nobody knows for sure.
However, the council didn’t explain why the city hadn’t bothered to work out those regulations in the year since voters approved recreational cannabis.
In addition, multiple dispensaries had already applied for their licensing in the five-day gap between the state moving forward with adult-use licensing and the Detroit City Council backpedaling and banning the businesses. So some companies with state licenses may open despite the ban. Regardless, the city council is suggesting all will be good to go by the end of January for all who pass the licensing hurdles.
What are these stores like?
As anybody who’s been in medical dispensaries across Michigan can attest, entering one of these can be sensory overload. You are presented with so many options, it’s a bit like Homer Simpson in the Land of Chocolate.
You've got so many options, it’s a bit like Homer Simpson in the Land of Chocolate.
At Exclusive Brands in Ann Arbor, there are multiple displays of cannabis flower, concentrates, pre-rolled joints, edibles, tinctures, creams for painful joints, and much more.
While pricing is subject to change as the opening of the adult use side begins, what a small sample of pricing at what is currently medical only showed is that obtaining individual grams of bud can range from $15 to $20, which is higher than in other parts of the state … but you have to have your medical card to access any of those dispensaries. For now, anyway.
Also, Michigan’s excise tax rate for adult-use cannabis is 10%, paid by the retailer. That adds to the sale price for recreational weed, though the product is the same as they’re selling to medical patients.
What should I expect on Day One?
- Long lines on opening day. Bring a camping chair, water, snacks, and a positive attitude. Opening day lines are a party. Bring an American flag—you’re here to celebrate freedom. Share your snacks and make new friends.
- Cold weather. It’s December. It’s Michigan. Buckle up. Wear warm winter clothes.
- Relatively high prices. A legal, regulated system imposes costs on everyone—including you the consumer. Manufacturing and selling a clean lab-tested product costs money. The state imposes a tax on your purchase. And the law of supply and demand also kicks in: In the early legal days there are many buyers and a limited selection of products.
Are you kidding me with the price of a gram?
Relax. This happens in every legal state. The price of a gram of cannabis flower tends to be shocking on opening day. But eventually supply catches up to demand. The market finds its level. In Washington state, the price of a gram on opening day was $23. Today it’s around $5.
What should I bring?
A state-issued ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.) and cash money.
Until federal laws change, nearly all adult-use stores in legal states operate on a cash-only basis. Some have their own ATMs in the store, but do not count on it.
Bring more cash than you think you’ll need. Past experience in stores on opening day has shown that customers encounter two things:
- An astonishing selection of products they’re eager to try
- Higher prices than they expected
What products will be available?
Adults will be able to purchase flower (bud), and cannabis-infused edibles, oils, and creams. See below for more details.
Can I buy a cannabis vape pen?
Not now, but probably later.
Vape products are usually available, but on Nov. 22 the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency issued an emergency rule banning the use of vitamin E acetate in cannabis vaping products. Vitamin E oil, also known as tocopheryl-acetate, has been linked to the nationwide outbreak of VAPI (aka EVALI), a serious and potentially deadly lung ailment. (For more on that, see Leafly’s constantly-updated resource page on that subject.)
That emergency rule also halted the sale of existing cannabis vape products. Those products will be allowed back on the shelf once they’re tested to make sure they don’t contain vitamin E oil. But labs are just ramping up their ability to test for the substance, and the resulting backlog will keep vaping products relatively scarce on the shelves for at least the new few weeks.
Some stores may offer discounts for veterans, students, seniors, or people with disabilities. That could save you as much as 10%. It’s worth asking.
Some stores also offer opt-in text messaging programs that will notify you when there’s a sale on just about anything.