In Michigan, hundreds line up for 1st day of recreational marijuana sales

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The three Ann Arbor provisioning centers licensed and open for the first day of legal retail sales of recreational marijuana in Michigan saw lines of customers hundreds deep Dec. 1.

Inventory appeared to be holding up well through the first few hours of sales, which began shortly after 10 a.m. At that time, the retailers were legally allowed to legally reclassify existing inventory of medical marijuana to "adult-use" sales.

Ann Arbor's Greenstone Provisions on South Ashley Street, Arbors Wellness on East Liberty and Exclusive Provisioning Centers on Varsity Drive were the only retailers selling recreational marijuana in Southeast Michigan.

And the crowds snaking down sidewalks and around buildings — all day long — indicated that the state's first licensees were benefiting from the brief period of exclusivity.

As many as 200 people were still in line at Greenstone Provisions at 5 p.m. Sunday, said Bartek Kupczyk, part-owner of the dispensary.

"It's been pandemonium," Kupczyk said. "We keep telling them not to waste their time because we won't get to them before we close, but they are holding out hope."

The store is required to close at 8 p.m. in accordance with Ann Arbor regulations.

Kupczyk said the store had served more than 200 customers since opening at 10 a.m. and expects to see high traffic until the shop, ensconced in a former residential home on Ashley Street, runs out of cannabis flower later this week amid a marijuana shortage.

The state allowed all dispensaries to transfer half of their medical marijuana stock to adult-use recreational, but that's not expected to satiate demand.

"At some point, in the next week we're going to end up running out," Kupczyk said. "It's going to be a struggle. There's just limited cultivators and producers right now."

To sustain operations for as long as possible, Greenstone Provisions is limiting customers to seven grams of marijuana per visit.

When the state surprised the industry by moving the date from January 2020 to Dec. 1, it said retailers would be allowed to transfer 50 percent of the product they had held in inventory for at least 30 days from medical marijuana to adult-use recreational marijuana.

That process involved physically swapping out state-issued tags required on each product. It also limits stores' potential inventory to what they had on hand when they started selling.

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