Everything you to need to know as recreational pot goes on sale in Michigan

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Legal recreational marijuana sales in Michigan finally have begun, nearly a year after adult use became legal in the state.

The first adult-use sales on Dec. 1 kicked off an industry Michigan budget planners forecast will contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy — marking what is expected to be one of the largest recreational markets in the United States. Up until Dec. 1, people without a medical marijuana card had to be given marijuana from one who did.

Patient Ryan Sculthorpe, of Canton, smells a bud of Garlic Cookies, an Indica strain, as consultant Evie holds the display jar at Arbors Wellness in An Arbor. Recreational marijuana is expected to begin sales on Sunday, December 1. Arbors Wellness is a medical marijuana dispensary with a recreational license.

Voters in Michigan approved with 57% support legalizing recreational marijuana in November 2018. On Dec. 6, 2018, after the election was certified, the law went into effect, ending marijuana's criminalization. But the state of Michigan had a year to set up a system to issue licenses for recreational retailers.

Here is what recreational marijuana buyers should know:

Who can buy recreational marijuana?

Consumers must be at least 21 years old and show a valid state ID or driver's license to buy marijuana for recreational use. They can give recreational marijuana to individuals age 21 or older.

How much recreational marijuana can consumers buy?

Marijuana users can buy and travel with up to 2.5 ounces — about 160 0.5-gram joints. At home, they can have up to 10 ounces. People also can grow up to 12 plants for personal consumption as long as they are not visible from outside.

When can consumers buy recreational marijuana?

Starting around 10 a.m. Dec. 1, medical marijuana provisioning centers in Michigan with recreational licenses can begin to transfer in the state's marijuana tracking system some of their medical marijuana supply for adult-use, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency said this week.

"10 a.m. is when our employees get to work," said David Harns, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. "I doubt it will happen right at 10. After 10 o'clock, we'll approve it on our end, and the businesses have to do their part.

"After however long that takes them — after they do what they need to — they can start sales, if they choose."

A display jar holds a sample of Skywalker Blueberry X (with) Mazar at Arbors Wellness in Ann Arbor.

Where can consumers buy recreational marijuana?

As of Dec. 1, six retailers have been licensed to sell adult-use marijuana, mostly in Ann Arbor. Four plan to begin recreational sales Dec. 1:

  • Arbors Wellness at 321 E. Liberty in Ann Arbor: Sales expected to begin shortly after 10 a.m.
  • Exclusive Provisioning Centers at 3820 Varsity Drive in Ann Arbor: Sales expected to begin shortly after 10 a.m.
  • Greenstone at 338 S. Ashley in Ann Arbor:  Sales to begin at 11 a.m.
  • Michigan Supply and Provisions at 1096 E. Main St. Suite A in Morenci: Sales expected to begin sometime after 10 a.m.

Two other medical marijuana shops have received their recreational license but will not be immediately starting sales:

  • Green Peak Innovations' Skymint at 1958 S. Industrial Highway Suite A and B in Ann Arbor: Expected to begin next week
  • Lume Cannabis Co.'s Lit Provisioning Centers at 600 W. 7th St. in Evart: Expected to begin on Friday.
Team leader Patrick Shepard, left, of Ypsilanti, helps patient Andrew Paberzs, 65, of Ann Arbor, with his medical THC wax concentrate choices. Paberzs was hit by a car while walking to work in 2014 and suffered a traumatic brain injury and has chronic pain. 'If I don't get medical marijuana, I have to take pharmaceuticals. There is no western medicine that compares to the relief I receive from medical marijuana,' says Paberzs.

How are recreational retailers preparing?

Recreational retailers in Ann Arbor say they predict crowds and visitors from out-of-state when they start selling.

"We do anticipate long lines and products going fairly quickly," Exclusive Brands' Jarrous said. "We're going to do our best so that our medical patients won't be affected by the rush of recreational sales."

Exclusive Brands also is a cultivator and processor, and it expects to have plenty of supply, but some locations that aren't vertically integrated might have limited supply and variety. Retailers can transfer up to 50% of each medical marijuana product type that has been in inventory for a minimum of 30 days for adult-use sale.

Arbors Wellness, another pot shop in Ann Arbor, will have new recreational stock delivered to the store throughout the day, manager Al Moroz said.

Pot shops will be able to differentiate marijuana products by their Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance tags. Yellow labels indicate medical marijuana, while blue labels will signify recreational marijuana.

What type of marijuana can consumers buy for adult use?

All marijuana sold in Michigan must have passing test results in the statewide monitoring system, including marijuana transferred from the medical track to the recreational.

Recreational marijuana consumers will not be able to purchase marijuana vaping products after Michigan regulators temporarily paused their sale under new safety standards spurred by an outbreak of lung injuries. On Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported a second person in the state had died from a vaping-related injury. The man had used THC.

The law passed by Michigan voters last year determines the maximum delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana known as THC, various products for recreational use can contain:

  • Edibles such as gummies and baked goods can have up to 10 milligrams per serving and 100 milligrams per container.
  • Capsules and tinctures can have up to 10 milligrams per serving and 200 milligrams per container.
  • There is no maximum for topical products such as lubricants, spa products, lotions, balms and rubs.
  • Other products have a maximum of 10 milligrams per serving and 100 milligrams per container.

Because of the maximum on edibles, they will be in short supply, said Coleman Labarr, general manager of Michigan Supply and Provisions.

"Most medical marijuana edibles are in packages of 100 milligrams, but they are split into two servings," he said. "We won't have a full menu available until probably mid-December."

Team leader Patrick Shepard of Ypsilanti, holds a pre-roll of a marijuana variety called Forbidden Jelly X (with) Ethos Cookies at Arbors Wellness in Ann Arbor.

How much marijuana should a person consume?

People have different tolerance levels, but for those looking to indulge, "start low, go slow," recommends Matthew Abel, a senior partner for the Detroit law firm Cannabis Counsel PLC.

"When people are smoking, it has a more immediate effect," he said. "Especially if they are buying edible products, take at least an hour once they eat before increasing the dose. Might as well they wait two hours and make sure they don't negligently or innocently take twice as much as they would have liked. You can't bake off once you've eaten it."

How much does recreational marijuana cost?

Prices are up to the retailers. Total costs, however, will be more expensive than medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana has an excise tax of 10% in addition to the state's 6% sales tax.

Base prices at Exclusive Brands and Michigan Supply and Provisions will be the same for medical and recreational marijuana, officials said. Exclusive Brands' range between $10 and $100 depending on the product, Jarrous said. Strains such as Mac and Cheese, Lava Cake, Mimosa and Mendo Breath will be available for recreational sale.

Arbors Wellness, on the other hand, will have a couple-dollar difference between most medical and adult-use products, Moroz said. Grams will start at $22, edibles will cost up to $25 and concentrates will be $40 for 0.5 grams. Strains available include Motorbreath 15, Garlic Cookies, Han Solo Burger and Purple Chem.

Greenstone also plans to offer discounts to medical patients, manager Austin Barnett said. Lit Provisioning Centers will have different prices for medical and recreational, as well, said general manager Sam Gray.

This is a recreational marijuana shipping tag from the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA). The MRA issues tag numbers with every product sold that will have an associated number on the packaging for tracking purposes from seed to sale for quality purposes.

Do consumers need cash to buy recreational marijuana?

Many retailers have an ATM in their building, though most do have a cashless option. Purchasing with a debit or a credit card might come with additional fees.

Where can consumers use recreational marijuana?

Recreational marijuana use is limited to private settings. Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal. Public use is banned and can carry up to a $100 fine. Employers can fire or refuse to hire someone if they fail a drug test.

Possession also is illegal on school property. And since marijuana still is illegal at the federal level, possession is banned on lands owned by the federal government, including national forests and parks. It also is illegal to carry marijuana across state and country lines.

Michigan's marijuana laws do allow for consumption establishment licenses, but the state has not received any. Kalkaska-based Real Leaf Solutions, a medical marijuana cultivator, has been granted a marijuana event organizer license.

Arbors Wellness, a medical marijuana dispensary with a recreational license, expects to starting selling to recreational marijuana users Sunday.

Are consumers' names recorded when they buy recreational marijuana?

People purchasing recreational marijuana must show proof they are at least 21 years old, and retailers said they will swipe state IDs and driver's licenses to ensure the information stored on the card matches what is written on the ID. If customers use a debit or credit card, their information will be stored with retailers and shared with companies involved in the transaction.

Some retailers such as Exclusive Brands LLC have a loyalty program for which customers can sign up, as well. If customers do, the company will save their information.

The state of Michigan is prohibited from recording who purchases recreational marijuana, Harns said.

Can consumers get recreational marijuana delivered?

Not yet. Although 63 medical marijuana provisioning centers have requested and received approval from the Marijuana Regulatory Agency for home delivery, separate approval is needed for recreational delivery. No retailers have received it.

How will recreational sales affect the medicinal market?

Officials with the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association have criticized the state's decision to allow retailers to transfer some of their medical marijuana into the recreational market over concerns that there already is a limited supply of marijuana for medical patients.

Caregivers, who are registered in the state to grow medical marijuana for up to five patients and themselves, still are able to sell what they produce to licensed medical growers and processors in efforts to avoid shortages. But those businesses with recreational licenses on Sunday also will be able to transfer up to 50% of their product for recreational use.

The ability to transfer the products "created a spike in the wholesale price of the product," said Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. "We finally have just seen improvement in inventory. The supply chain is extremely fragile. This is a move backward in our opinion. I've never seen anyone pull a cowboy stunt like this."

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency is allowing transfers to happen "until further notice," Harns said, though it reserves the power to stop transfers. Designated recreational product cannot be transferred back for medical sale in the tracking system.

Only a "limited amount of the product" will be transferred, Harns said. "It is product medical patients have not chosen to purchase. It will help move (people) off the black market and into the regulated and tested product."

When will more recreational marijuana retailers open?

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency issued the first recreational retailer license on Nov. 19, and it continues to process the dozens of applications it has received, including from 36 more retailers. More than 1,400 municipalities, however, have banned recreational marijuana businesses from opening shops in their communities.


Twitter: @BreanaCNoble