CROCKERY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Friday marks something of a milestone for marijuana advocates. The first legally operating medical marijuana dispensary in Kent or Ottawa counties will open its doors 25 minutes west of Grand Rapids.

It is a day that many have waited for: when marijuana could be legally purchased in the metro area. But this is really just a first step. 

The business is aptly named the Exit 9 Provisionary. It is a mile from 1-96’s exit 9 near Nunica in Crockery Township. 

Exit 9 Provisionary
Exit 9 Provisionary near Nunica. (Aug. 1, 2019)

It is owned and operated by Greg Maki of Muskegon, who made his name in auto sales and scrap but two years ago saw an opportunity in the medical marijuana field.  

“I’ve been self-employed my entire life and everything I’ve acquired in the last 40 years, I’ve sold it to open this business,” Maki said.

He said he knew nothing about the marijuana business before he started down this road.

“I have a vast knowledge of business, but not the medical marijuana business,” Maki said.

He has relied on his staff to help with the all the licensing regulations, compliance and determining inventory. His staff includes several members of the Maki clan and people who live in West Michigan.

“So many of these operations are owned by people out of state and large corporations,” Maki said.

When the state started taking applications, Maki says he was the ninth out of more than 1,400 applications. He said the state approval process was arduous but necessary. 

“If they didn’t have all those stringent rules, anybody could do it and I’m a firm believer of the harder something is, the more rewarding it is,” said Maki, who also runs Park Place Provisioning Center in Muskegon, which opened in June. 

Security is tight at Exit 9 with facial recognition cameras throughout the facility, bulletproof glass and steel security doors.

Exit 9 Provisionary
Inside Exit 9 Provisionary near Nunica. (Aug. 1, 2019)

The waiting room that looks like every doctor’s office waiting room. The center has a menu of more than 90 products that includes buds, waxes, vape flavors, lotions, capsules, tablets and chocolate bars.

Exit 9 sits in Crockery Township, which is the only municipality that allows dispensaries, as Township Supervisor Leon Stille explained 24 Hour News 8.

“We’re here in the middle of Ottawa County saying let’s allow a new industry to get a little bit of a foothold,” Stille said.

Like most medical marijuana entrepreneurs, Maki said he would like to become part of the recreational marijuana industry when it goes online in Michigan later this year.

Crockery Township has opted out of recreational marijuana for now, but the township supervisor said it is willing to reconsider that position in the future.

Maki says municipal leaders who wonder if medical marijuana should come to their community should come to him.

“We welcome them to come and visit any of our two stores and spend some time with us and really see what it’s like, Maki said.

The grand opening Friday includes deals and specials for those with a medical marijuana card.