- Steve Neavling
Recreational marijuana sales began in Michigan on Sunday, ending decades of prohibition.
But cannabis consumers who waited in long lines to celebrate the historic day were greeted with prices far higher than the black market.
The cost of an eighth-ounce of premium flower hovered at $50 to $60 — nearly twice what you’d pay with a good street connection. And that’s before you pay a 10-percent excise tax and a 6-percent sales tax. An ounce of high-grade marijuana exceeded $400 after taxes for some varieties.
Only three recreational dispensaries were ready to open their doors Sunday, and all were in Ann Arbor.
The prices, however, didn’t seem to temper the excitement of buying legal marijuana. Some people waited in line for several hours, and some of the dispensaries ran out of strains.
It’s too early to tell what impact legal sales will have on the black market. In California, black market sales outnumbered sanctioned ones nearly two years after recreational pot was legalized, according to the Bureau of Cannabis Control.
Prices aren’t the only reason the black market may stay strong in Michigan. About 79 percent of the state’s 1,773 cities, townships, and villages have chosen to prevent marijuana businesses from opening, even though voters in most municipalities supported legalization of pot for anyone 21 years or older in November 2018.
Those municipalities will miss out on a share of the 10-percent excise tax on recreational marijuana sales.
Recreational pot is expected to become a multibillion-dollar industry in Michigan that will create new jobs and provide a significant amount of new revenue for roads, schools, and municipalities. In the first full fiscal year, marijuana sales are projected to generate $180.5 million in taxes, according to the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. That number is expected to grow to $287.9 million by 2022-23.
Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.