Michigan recreational marijuana first day, customers celebrate.
The pursuit of happiness, a loved one lost to opiates, anxiety maintenance and artistic expression – customers had a host of reasons to be excited for the first day of legal recreational sales marijuana in Michigan.
After arriving about 5 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 1 to scout the three Ann Arbor businesses planning to open sales, Andrew Blackburn of Jackson followed a group of people and scooted his way to the front of the line at Greenstone Provisions, 338 S. Ashley St., he said.
Greenstone Provisions was just one of a handful of businesses that were licensed for retail sales and open on Sunday. More than 30 other businesses still have pending applications with the Marijuana Regulatory Agency.
Blackburn was the first in the door at 10:10 a.m. with a friend, who subsequently purchased several grams of marijuana flowers and got two pre-rolled joints, one of which was free as part of a giveaway.
A self-described “digital abstract expressionist,” he works on landscapes while sober, but abstract, colorful designs while under the influence of marijuana, he said.
He believes it expanded his mind, and was excited to both be around like-minded users and to have marijuana taxed to support the state on Sunday, he said.
“It’s a really cool opportunity to be at the momentous occasion when they deregulate a rather harmless substance, that’s shown to be much less harmful than alcohol,” He said. “And the fact that we’re even here is absurd.”
Standing in line a little over an hour and half after the state began allowing sales, Bill Schmitt Jr., 42, of Ohio was all smiles as announced his birthday as April 20 – or 4/20, the marijuana slang.
But there’s serious reasons to celebrate legalization, he said. His daughter’s mom died from heroin and opiates; marijuana could’ve helped her, he said.
“People like my daughter’s mom would have an opportunity to get cannabis recommended to them (by a doctor) to where she didn’t really start on the pills,” he said.
In addition, he said it could help wean substance users off opioids. He hopes Michigan’s move – the first in the Midwest – will help other states move out of prohibition.
Fellow attendees from other states also got up early or drove in late to make the first day of sales.
Justin Gerhlld, 33, of Indiana, arrived at midnight to wait for the opening.
He slept in his truck and was surprised the lines weren’t longer. He attended the first sales in Colorado, he noted.
“Compared to what Colorado was, this is mild,” he said. “I mean, I thought it was going to be all the way around the block.”
Shortly thereafter, it was.
Samantha Wilkerson, 28, of Stockbridge said she got in at 7 a.m. and could see through the windows of houses and businesses that the line had stretched around the block before she we got inside.
Wrapping up her purchase of pre-rolled joints and a wax concentrate about 10:45 a.m., she said she normally can’t handle crowds. She has high-functioning anxiety and hasn’t been able to get a medical marijuana card to treat it.
“This helps (me) not take pharmaceutical medicine and all that good stuff,” she said of marijuana. “… Doing a different kind of event, I wouldn’t have been able to do it I would’ve been at home hyperventilating,” she said.
Still others, such as Travis Elliott, 29, of Indiana said he was excited to do something legally that he’s been penalized and arrested for several times at Winthrop University in South Carolina.
“I can’t wait to walk by a cop and show him this is what we’ve been waiting for our whole entire life,” he said.
His travel companion and a Hash Bash veteran from the 1980s, Daniel Armstrong, 49, said he’s excited to see something he protested about come to fruition.
“Ann Arbor’s the forefront of the battle for legalizing marijuana in the state of Michigan,” he said, noting it’s long decriminalized the substance. “I wanted to be part of history and this is part of history.”
Smiling as he left following his first purchase, Michael Graves, 58, of Detroit said the day was an example of voters getting what they want.
“A lot of people did time (incarcerated) and records were damaged and in other parts of our country that’s still going on, so hopefully our whole country will come to realization, like we did around alcohol, that it should be legal,” he said.
The atmosphere and the opportunity to purchase marijuana were euphoria, he said.
One Greenstone budtender, Matthew Price, said the happiness he can grow is the best part of the business, even if it sounds “hippie-dippie” to say it.
“It’s very big for someone to go into a store and buy weed or marijuana like you would alcohol or cigarettes,” he said. “I never in my lifetime thought I would see that.”
The system for logging sales moved slowly at the start of the day, causing some stress, said Bartek Kupczyk, the newly appointed director of retail sales and part-owner of the business, around 3:30 p.m. Luckily, after a few hours, they were fully up and running.
A line remained wrapped around the business Sunday afternoon.
The Greenstone remained stocked, though they could still sell out before closing time at 8 p.m., Kupczyk said. They’ll restock tomorrow.