Green wave of economic growth in Michigan from marijuana dispensaries

NILES, Mich. — Tomorrow is April 20. That date may mean nothing to you, but it’s a taboo holiday dating back to the 1970s, a kind of homage to the "best time to smoke marijuana".

While Michigan entered its fifth year of legal pot, marijuana dispensaries are not the only ones getting some green on this unofficial holiday.

4/20 has sparked a new age of marketing munchies, even here in Michiana.

Pot dispensaries in Michigan see sales getting higher, with many customers coming from out-of-state.

Since Michigan first legalized marijuana use in December 2018, pot sales continue to increase, as explained by Katie Lynch Lindgren, Brand Manager for Green Stem Dispensary in Niles.

“For the last four years, what we have seen is each 4/20 growing. It was a cultural holiday within the cannabis industry for a long time, something that was celebrated like a holiday. With recreation and stores starting to open, it became more of a Black Friday, if you will, of retail, but for weed.”

Partakers in the 4/20 holiday are coming to Michigan from numerous nearby states that have not legalized recreational marijuana, including Indiana, Wisconsin, and Kentucky.

According to Andrea Kelly, a Floor Manager at ReLeaf, “We definitely get people from all over, you know, different states. Everyone comes and visits. Traffic is definitely higher closer to the holiday for sure, but I think spreading them out, we have been getting pretty decent traffic each day.”

In addition to the marijuana industry experiencing an uptick in sales leading up to the 4/20 holiday, the food industry is also capitalizing on the holiday’s munchies.

Wingstop released a new THC rub for its wings to induce an “elevated flavor experience,” and Jimmy John’s developed a “deliciously dope dime bag,” a meal specifically designed to satisfy food cravings.

Adam Stoler, owner of Jimmy John’s in Niles, asserted, “Every year we definitely see the economic impact the cannabis business brings to the Niles community on the 4/20 holiday. Jimmy John’s, as a whole, continuously looks for ways to market the 4/20 holiday on a national scale. It’s been fun talking to the local cannabis businesses, figuring out how we can market our products together.”

More than just on 4/20, the cannabis industry is exploding in Michigan, with about $2 billion in sales per year generating a major increase in tax revenue.

The biggest jump in weed sales and its complementary industries takes place during major holiday seasons.

Lindgren explained, “So the five main holidays that we do are 4/20, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and then, of course, Christmas, that holiday season. Those are the five big ones, but 4/20 is like the kickoff to our season. It’s a kickoff to our area for tourism. We see a lot of cabin people coming up and being able to open their homes and their secondary homes. We see a lot of those snowbirds coming back in. And our friends from Illinois are coming over as well. And we absolutely welcome them in Michigan. It’s a great time for tourism.”

Holiday and marijuana sales throughout the year will benefit municipalities and counties across Michigan, and 70 percent of the funds collected will go to school aid and transportation.

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