First Day of Recrational Weed in Michigan

Hundreds wait in line for first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales

ANN ARBOR — Nearly two hours before the first sales of recreational marijuana began Sunday, the line at Arbor Wellness snaked halfway down the block.
a group of people walking down the street: A line forms an hour before first legal marijuana sales in Ann Arbor on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019.
© Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press 
Detroit Free Press A line forms an hour before first legal marijuana sales in Ann Arbor on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019.     

And Nick St. Onge was the first in line, arriving from his Clinton Township home shortly before 7 a.m.

“It’s a historic moment. I wanted to be one of the first ones to buy legal marijuana,” he said. “To not have to worry about it anymore. I can just walk in and buy it instead of going to somebody on the street to find it. It’s tested and that’s comforting.”


The actual first sale at Arbor happened at 9:50 a.m. to legendary cannabis activist John Sinclair, a Detroit resident who wracked up three marijuana related arrests in the 1960s and landed a 10-year prison sentence for giving an undercover cop two joints. His plight attracted the attention of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who headlined a concert in Ann Arbor in 1971 to bring attention to Sinclair's arrest.

John Sinclair eating a donut: Legendary cannabis activist John Sinclair was in Ann Arbor for first sale of recreational marijuana on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019© Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press
Legendary cannabis activist John Sinclair was in Ann Arbor for first sale of recreational marijuana on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2These days, Sinclair doesn’t have to worry about finding weed, he’s been smoking every day for decades. But he wanted to be in Ann Arbor to help celebrate the momentous moment for marijuana.

“To me, this is all for other people. I’ve been able to get weed every day since 1962,” he said. “But I’m glad for the average person that they don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

Hundreds of people waited in lines at three Ann Arbor marijuana retail stores — Arbor Wellness, Greenstone Provisions and Exclusive Brands — on the first day of legal recreational sales in Michigan. Those were the only three shops open on Sunday with more to come as the state licenses more stores.

It comes more than a year after voters approved legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. Under the ballot proposal, use, possession and sales of marijuana are now legal to anyone 21 or older. People also can grow up to 12 plants for personal use.

Andrew Brisbo, director of the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency, said he was proud of the state’s ability to get recreational sales started months sooner than expected.

“I am proud of the hard work our team put in to implement the will of the voters, ahead of the deadline,” he said.

But Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of the Smart Approaches to Marijuana which opposes legalization, said it was a sad day for Michigan.

“An addiction for profit industry can now target vulnerable communities just as it has done in other states,” he said. “And it’s only a matter of time before we begin to see its lobbyists bankroll lawmakers and claw away at any and all regulations placed upon it.”

Others looked at the day as a celebration.

Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, said Sunday was the culmination of decades of work to legalize marijuana.

“We’re the first state in the Midwest to be able to walk this path. We are a leader and the way cannabis law reform has been accomplished so far,” he said, after buying several pre-rolled joints. “Damn it. America is a beautiful place. And Michigan is more beautiful today.”

By 9:30 am, around 200 people were waiting in line by the historic yellow house where Greenstone Provisions sets up shop. Despite the cold and drizzle, people were in good spirits.

"I love cannibis!" one man screamed.

Al Gray, who made a 40-minute drive from Toledo to get to the Ann Arbor dispensary, said he had "nothing else to do."

"It helps me sleep at night," the 62-year-old said.

Gray suffers from insomnia and has been using marijuana off and on for 30 years. He planned to purchase an ounce of marijuana flower at Greenstone.

"Used to be hard to find until today," he said, laughing.

Tony Gandolfo made a new friend while waiting in line, getting to know Jordan Zawaski. The 29 and 28 year old said they prefer marijuana over drinking.

"I feel like when I take medicinal or recreational marijuana, I'm in control, I feel good, I eat more because I'm trying to gain weight, I sleep better. Those are the reasons why I choose to use it," Gandolfo said

The Ann Arbor Police Department had Officer Jennifer Sartori on hand to watch the festivities at Arbor Wellness.

"It's been really chill," she said. "Everybody's in a good mood and there have been no problems at all."

original story Detroit Free Press