Detroit dispensary launches first licensed pot delivery service in Michigan
Detroit — One Detroit dispensary has made buying pot almost as easy as ordering a pizza.
"This is amazing," said 34-year-old Rashon Massey after Utopia Gardens LLC manager Donnell Cravens rolled up to his Detroit residence with $70 in joints of Elmer's Glue hybrid and Sunshine Daydream indica and a vape cartridge of Durban Poison sativa. "I never imagined Michigan would see something like this so soon. It's like ordering Uber Eats."
Utopia Gardens this week made its first medical marijuana deliveries. Its service is the first for pot approved by the state of Michigan. The licensed provisioning center is hoping the deliveries will help provide safe access and reverse a downward trend in sales as unlicensed deliverers have proliferated.
"The illegal dispensaries are beating the snot out of us," Utopia Gardens owner Stuart Carter said. "It's the black market, and it's only growing."
Customers looking to obtain tested marijuana from a licensed facility, however, now can go to utopiagardens.com or call 313-332-0544 to order cannabis. Patients must upload or text a photo of their license and state medical marijuana card. Delivery takes 35-45 minutes, according to its website.
There is no delivery fee, but there is a minimum order of $50 for Wayne County residents and $100 for those living in Macomb and Oakland counties. Under state rules, Utopia Gardens must deliver to the address on a patient's license.
The service only accepts debit cards so as to avoid its driver traveling with cash. It is available from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Patients also can schedule delivery ahead of time and have the option to pick up the order themselves at 6541 E. Lafayette St.
"We are literally just rolling this out," said Garrett Carter, Utopia Gardens manager and Stuart's son. "It means ease of access for medication for our patients who don't have the means of travel or are ill or cannot travel. We're just trying to provide as much access to the patient as much as possible without them actually having to come into the shop."
Rules adopted by the Michigan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules in November opened the way for licensed provisioning centers to deliver cannabis. The rules allow delivery of up to 2.5 ounces to no more than 10 patients at a time. Provisioning centers must log the marijuana and track their vehicles by GPS.
Utopia Gardens and two other licensed dispensaries received approval for deliveries last week. Detroit's BotaniQ expects to begin service next week, and Portage's Lake Effect Group LLC plans to launch in the next two weeks.
Utopia Gardens applied for delivery prior to the new year, Stuart Carter said, a process that took four months to secure approval.
The state had to set up the back-end information technology systems and make sure it worked with the statewide, seed-to-sale monitoring system, David Harns, Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department communication manager, said in an email.
Carter says there are 205 delivery services that operate without a license in Michigan. That's up dramatically from around 80 in December, according to listings on Weedmaps, a website where marijuana retailers can post their menus and customers can leave reviews.
The Michigan State Police previously has said there is no single entity in Michigan responsible for enforcement when it comes to the marijuana black market and that it will continue to work with county prosecutors to determine when criminal enforcement is warranted. Such investigations may require significant manpower and resources.
Carter also is in conversations with state legislators to bring forward a bill akin to one that has been introduced in California, where the black market has exploded. The bill would require marijuana businesses to post their state license number online and in advertisements.
"I think that will cut illegal delivery services at their knees," Carter said. "They won't have a way to get their name out there."