Ann Arbor, Bay City & Battle Creek winning the recreational cannabis war

The Botanical Co Kalkaska

The Botanical Co KalkaskaCrain’s Detroit Business reports that among marijuana-friendly communities in Michigan, the three cities to have garnered the most recreational business licenses are Ann Arbor, Bay City and Battle Creek:

The trio of localities, disparate in region and ranging in population size from Bay City’s 33,000 to Ann Arbor’s 120,000, are part of a small web of around 370 municipalities where cannabis retail storefronts can set up shop.

Why is the map of Michigan’s cannabis retail landscape so spotty? The reasons are myriad. Once a city decides to buy in, what happens next is influenced by its track record — or lack thereof — on accepting the much-older medical marijuana industry, as well as its population mix and its proximity to state borders, for example.

Crain’s determined the top 23 cities for cannabis retail, zeroing in on the larger recreational cannabis industry.

Ann Arbor, with the University of Michigan and a long history of supporting cannabis, tops Crain’s list of cities with the most active recreational cannabis business licenses: 24. Bay City has 22, followed by 20 in Battle Creek, 16 in Lansing and 14 in Kalamazoo. The city in metro Detroit with the most is River Rouge, which has seven.

Sales in the adult-use, or recreational, market have jumped 112 percent over the past year, from $59.2 million in August 2020 to $125.5 million the same month this year. Monthly sales first broke $100 million in April.

While hundreds of cities allow some portion of the cannabis industry — whether it’s growing and processing, the more public-facing retail option or both — there are also 1,400 localities, nearly 80 percent of the state’s 1,773, that took action to block the new industry from their borders. Local governments can decide to opt out under state law. Those that do allow it got shares of a bucket of $10 million in tax revenue for fiscal 2020, the state reported in March.

…Cities that decide to let in cannabis can create their own preferences, to a certain extent, on what kind of businesses they’ll allow. That has made the industry quite litigious, with lawsuits cropping up in places such as Berkley and Detroit. But Mains doesn’t think the regulatory red tape factors much into which cities have become cannabis powerhouses.

“Businesses in this space are just used to that at this point, dealing with regulations that are stringent and ever-evolving,” he said. “It’s more just availability of licenses, and also real estate.”

More in Crains Detroit & for sure check out our recreational marijuana dispensary map as well as the 420-friendly Lodging & Camping page!

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