Rolling Out the Green Carpet

One industry has found fertile ground in Michigan municipalities that are enacting progressive policies to regulate—rather than restrict—the sale and possession of marijuana

Posted In: Culture, , News, ,   From Issue 902   By: Jason Dean

17th September, 2020     0

Last December, Michigan became the 10th U.S. state in the U.S.A. to legalize the commercial sale of marijuana to adults for recreational use. Now, less than a year later, with an economy-crushing pandemic wreaking havoc across the state, no one could have predicted that dispensaries would be doing brisk business with bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, salons, and just about every other establishment struggling to survive under new occupancy limits, mask mandates, and social distancing.  

Today there are 108 locations in Michigan where you can legally buy flower, edibles, concentrate, ointments, and other cannabis goods. Walk into any shop and the pungent aroma envelops you before the receptionist can check you in and scan your ID. Depending on how busy it is, you either take a seat in the waiting room or enter into the main store. 

Once inside, you are introduced to your bud-tender, who helps guide you to your decision between Gorilla Glue #4, Blue Dream, Tropicanna Cookies, Punch Breath, or any of the other specific strains available, all tested and classified as sativa, indica, or hybrid—with THC potencies labeled and even harvest and test date inscribed on some product.

Now that more than half of U.S. states have decriminalized or opted to not enforce existing laws related to personal marijuana use, it’s interesting to witness the shift in perspective. Once seen as a weed that made people act like goofy fools, cannabis has matured into a flower with an array of health benefits. Finally, society is growing up enough to handle a serious relationship with cannabis.

However, in the federal government’s eyes, cannabis remains classified as a Schedule I drug, lumped in with heroin and LSD. Something is clearly out of whack.

Exactly one hundred years ago, Congress enacted the Eighteenth Amendment, banning the consumption of alcohol. It’s hard to fathom that Prohibition was the law of the land for nearly 14 years. (Then again, American history is rife of examples of the “law” of the land being twisted beyond recognition, depending on who is calling the shots.)

Whether you are for or against the normalization of pot culture in the mainstream, one thing is clear: No other industry currently has the potential for bringing in much-needed revenue to the state’s economy. 

Bay County, which had previously approved up to 25 permits for medical marijuana facilities, allowed for an additional 25 recreational sales permits, intended for existing medical dispensaries wanting to expand to include recreational sales. There are currently 12 dispensaries operating in Bay County; all serve medical patients, and nearly all have obtained a recreational license.

Annual permits generate $5,000 from each facility, which offsets law enforcement costs and other municipal costs, according to Bangor Township Supervisor Glenn Rowley. “We will eventually receive a portion of the state excise tax [from sales],” he adds. “This is going to be very beneficial, especially in the age of COVID, where state revenue sharing is going to be cut by almost 60 percent. Here’s an income stream that most [jurisdictions] won’t have.” 

Bangor Township was the second municipality in Michigan to approve a medical marijuana ordinance after the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) was passed in 2008. “We were in the game very quickly, and I think many [other jurisdictions] used that ordinance to craft their own,” says Rowley. Voters in Bangor Township were solidly behind the MMMA, with 57% voting in favor.

“Our day-to-day job as a public servant often comes down to which decision sucks the least?” says Rowley. “And here we had more people in favor of it than were against it, so it made sense.” Legality and market demand were the driving factors, and Rowley says Bangor has been committed to “doing it right” from the start, adding that the financials “didn’t suck.” Of the 18 medical and/or recreational dispensaries operating in mid-Michigan, 12 are located in Bangor Township. 

Each dispensary pays a $5,000 annual permit, and those funds help offset the majority of costs for Bangor’s police protection, provided through the Bay County Sheriff’s Department. And Rowley expects another financial boost when the State of Michigan gets around to distributing funds collected from the excise tax collected from sales. “This is going to be another revenue stream for us,” says Rowley, adding that those funds will help offset state revenue sharing, down by almost 60% due to the pandemic.  

But not every community is rolling out the green carpet for the normalization of recreational marijuana. Voters in Kawkawlin recently denied Bay Area Meds’ application for a recreational license. So for the foreseeable future, the shop can only sell to medical clients. 

Back in Bangor, Rowley says problems or specific incidents related to the admittance of recreational cannabis sales have been nearly nonexistent. The legitimacy starts with how dispensaries are presenting cannabis to today’s consumer.

“It’s very professional, and by no means a Cheech and Chong movie,” says Rowley. “The clientele demographic is also a lot different than what people would think.”

PUFF, located on Marquette Avenue a few hundreds yards from where the U.S.S. Edson is docked, opened for medical sales in July 2019 and was one of the first in the state to offer recreational sales early this year. Working with Bangor during that has been smooth sailing, according to President Justin Elias, a Bay County native who appreciates being able to do business in and support the community. “The township clerk [Dawn Bublitz] is amazing,” says Elias.

“Bay County had the right leadership in place,” says Elias, who also operates a PUFF location in Traverse City. “And Bangor in particular was really on it. They knew the laws, and they moved very fast and efficiently.” Traverse City has been another story. A succession of loopholes, seemingly designed as nothing more than prohibitive obstacles, has made doing business in that jurisdiction more of a challenge.

So for the time being, at least, the grass is greener, thicker, and more pungent, in Bay County. Any industry that can get the green flowing in these trying times deserves to do business, and Bangor Township is creating a model for success that others may soon emulate, if they’re not already.

Fall 2020 Regional Cannabis Dispensary Guide

Bay Area Meds • 2245 S Huron Rd, Bay City • (989) 778-1776

Med. Accepts Debit, VISA, MC, Discover; no ATM onsite. 

Local owner, one location, opened Nov. 2019. Rewards program for all patients; 1st timers receive some goodies. Regular deals (BOGO, quantity specials).


Dank on Arrival • 3650 Patterson Rd, Bay City • (989) 778-1461

Med / Rec / Cash only; ATM onsite


Dispo • 3843 N Euclid Ave, Bay City • (989) 671-9333

Med / Rec / Cash only; ATM onsite

Bay  City location opened Jan. 2020; other locations coming soon. Rewards program and 1st-timer specials for all clients.


Elite Wellness • 3389 S. Huron Rd, #3, Bay City • (989) 439-1711


Essence Provisioning Center • 759 E Pinconning Rd, Pinconning • (989) 879-4000

Med / Rec / Cash only; ATM onsite

Local owner, one location, opened Mar. 2020. Rewards program and 1st-timer specials for all clients.


High Level Health Marijuana Dispensary • 327 S Main St, Vassar • (989) 882-9101

Med / Rec / Cash only; ATM onsite

Company based in CO; operates three shops in MI (Vassar, Omer, Traverse City); Vassar location opened November 2019. Specials for 1st-time med patients; rewards program for all clients.


House of Fire • 3967 N Euclid Ave, Bay City • (989) 671-9999

Med/ Rec / Cash only; ATM onsite

Based in MI, one location. 1st timer discount for all clients.


JAS • 4373 Wilder Rd #2207 • (989) 778-2727

Med only


Medical Woods Provisioning Center • 200 S Euclid Ave, Bay City • (989) 316-2833

Med / Rec / Cash only; ATM onsite

Local owner; only location. 1st timers receive penny preroll with purchase; rewards program for med patients. Occasional “basket deals” for flower+edible+2 prerolls.!


Nature’s Holiday • 3620 S Huron Rd, Bay City • (989) 402-1519

Med / Rec.  Accepts cash; no ATM. Uses Paytender, which links to a bank account for no-fee transactions.

Local owner; only location. Discount for 1st timers and veterans; rewards program for all clients.


Nature’s Medicines Dispensary • 3480 E North Union Rd, Bay City • (989) 301-9718

Med / RecCash only; ATM onsite. Owner based in AZ; operates 7 locations in MI, 12 in AZ, CT, MA, MD, MO, and PA)

1st timers receive a discount of 10% (rec) or 15% (med); rewards program for all clients.


Puff Cannabis Company • 1680 Marquette Ave, Bay City • (989) 778-1144


Med / Rec. Cash only; ATM onsite

Local owner, two locations (Bay City, Traverse City). Discounts for 1st timers and veterans; rewards program for all clients and daily specials. Bay City location has been serving med patients since 7/5/19 and rec clients since 1/6/20. Traverse City location opened 6/15/20.


ReLeaf Center • 144 W Broad St, Chesaning (989) 323-2071

Med / Rec.  Cash only; ATM onsite

Company based in Niles, MI; operates shops in Niles, Lapeer, and Chesaning. Chesaning location opened first, in summer 2018. Specials for 1st timers, rewards program for all clients, random specials.


Remedii • 3557 Wilder Rd, Bay City • (989) 778-1348


The Shop NRC • 3895 N Euclid Ave, Ste C, Bay City • (989) 439-1311


Med only.  Cash only; ATM onsite


Skymint • 4330 Wilder Rd, Bay City • (989) 272-1745


Med / Rec.  Curbside service with reduced in-store capacity; ATM onsite

Currently operates 10 locations in MI, with more scheduled to open in the coming months. Bay City was the first location to open, on 7/10/19. Discounts for veterans (15%), students (10%), and med patients (25%). Email signup earns 10% discount; rewards program for all clients.


The Station • 302 E Huron Ave • Vassar • (989) 882-9298


Med / Rec. Cash only; ATM onsite

Penny prerolls for 1st-time med patients.


Uncle Bud’s Dispensary • 11 S Huron Rd, Linwood • (989) 564-7040

Med only  Cash only; ATM onsite

Local owner, one location with two other Bay City locations opening soon; 1st-timers receive a nickel preroll with purchase, rewards program for all clients. 






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