MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s been nearly a year since Michigan voters approved recreational marijuana’s decriminalization, but it’s still going to be months before consumers are able to purchase any.
On Tuesday night, Muskegon’s City Council and the Grand Rapids City Commission approved rules for recreational marijuana.
“Each municipality has their own ordinance. Those ordinances are written particularly to the wishes and the whims of each of the municipalities,” Pete Simmons, a licensing specialist with CannaLex Law in Grand Rapids Township, explained.
In Grand Rapids, city officials have been crafting a set of rules that started out with the regulation of medical marijuana and now sets a plan that would delay applications until April 20.
“The Grand Rapids one is a little more complex as to what they’re going to do,” Simmons said.
Muskegon’s rules would allow for an application process to begin next month.
“Muskegon’s is a little less complex whereas they’ve said that they’re ready to go and on Nov. 1 when the state opens up their application phase, Muskegon will be ready,” Simmons said.
The state’s application process is extremely complicated and pricey.
“It’s easily $100,000 just for that part of it and that’s not including land, construction, consulting fees and all of that other stuff,” Simmons said.
The medical marijuana centers that may open early next year in Grand Rapids will have the jump on recreational pot with a much less complicated approval process. On April 20, the medical marijuana shops transitioning to recreational marijuana will have to close and obtain the city’s local license, which will cost as much as $5,000. That means it could be the summer of 2020 before a recreational marijuana facility is open in the city.
“There are folks who have been fighting for this for 40 years,” Simmons said. “I imagine we’re going to see lines around the block, there’s going to be a lot of interest and excitement in it and I’m sure at the same time there are going to be people out there not so happy about it.”
FIRST RECREATIONAL POT SHOP COULD BE IN MUSKEGON
Greg Maki, the owner of medical marijuana center Park Place Provisioning on Park Street south of W. Laketon Avenue in Muskegon, says he plans to start selling recreational marijuana as early as January. That would make him the first seller in West Michigan.
Maki also owns a medical marijuana shop near Nunica in Ottawa County called Exit 9 Provisionary.
“Two years ago, I knew very little about it (the marijuana industry) and now it’s eat, live and breathe, it’s very consuming, lots of moving parts, very exciting,” Maki said.
He spent four decades as an auto parts and scrap dealer.
“I been self-employed for 40 years and basically everything I’ve acquired over the years, I sold to get into this industry,” Maki said.
He jumped through all the hoops, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Still, he hasn’t drawn a paycheck. He hopes that is about to change.
“So now once the recreational becomes available, just 21 (years old) with a valid driver’s license or state ID, and we could both sell medical and recreational out of this facility,” Maki told News 8 at Park Place Wednesday.
Maki says he has lots of parking on his property and believes he is ready for whatever comes. He speculated that initially, demand is likely to drive up prices as supply scrambles to keep up — but he believes that will be temporary.
“I believe in 12 to 18 months, the prices will come down considerably,” he said.
How things work out in Muskegon and Grand Rapids will likely impact whether other municipalities jump on the legal weed bandwagon.
“The smaller municipalities around Grand Rapids, they’re probably looking to see how it works and how it’s going to be in their best interest to stay out or come back in,” Simmons said.