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Michigan News - January 2020


State Crests $3 Million
In Adult Use Pot Sales

With just a sprinkling of stores in an even less number of cities, adult-use marijuana sales for the first two weeks reached $3.1 million, opening week (Dec 1 - 8) accounting for $1.6 million of the total.  Although lines are beginning to shorten and sales are starting to wane, these numbers mark a solid start for recreational retail revenue.  With a little math one can estimate 6% sales tax income for the state of Michigan in the first two weeks of cannabis sales at $186,000 and 10% marijuana excise tax income at $310,000.

Recreational marijuana was in such high demand at the few available locations that some began imposing purchase limits on flower of seven grams (one quarter) per customer.  State law places a total limit on sales of 2.5 ounces of flower and up to 15 grams of concentrates.

GPI Plans Eastward 
Expansion After Michigan

Launched in 2017, nine years after the state passed the first medical marijuana laws, by CEO Jeff Radway and his partner Jeo Neller, Green Peak Innovations (GPI) is now the largest marijuana operator in the state of Michigan.  In a December 17 article by Larry Gabriel, the Detroit Metro Times even went as far as to calculate GPI as having direct ownership of enough licenses to give them control of 50% of what can be legally grown for recreational use in Michigan.  At the time of the article they held five Class C grower licenses, one processor license, and one retail license.

Skymint, GPI’s brand of provisioning centers, currently has locations in Bay City, Newaygo, Nunica, Ann Arbor, and White Cloud, with twelve more planned in total .  The Ann Arbor location found itself among the prestigious list of adult-use provisioning centers who were licensed, stocked, and open for sales on opening day.  Meanwhile GPI’s cannabis products, under the name Northstar, can be found in provisioning centers all over the state.

After Michigan, the company plans to expand further, setting it’s aims on states east of the Mississippi, Radway saying in July that a 100-store rollout was planned, and early in 2019 GPI entered into an agreement to purchase a license in Florida.  The deal since fell through, with Radway stating they remain interested in Florida, but that he sees more prudent uses of capital in the near-term in states like Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Ohio.  He furthered by explaining that GPI is more interested in fully operational opportunities that are cash flow positive, rather than building something from the ground up.

Vape Bans Draw Attention to
Lack of Action on Opioids

The recent ban on the sale of marijuana and nicotine vape cartridges came swift and hard, almost immediately following reports of illness and death.  Citing Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data on nationwide hospitalizations and lung related deaths (which at the time of this writing totals 2,400 hospitalizations and 52 deaths nationwide), government officials in Michigan, as well as many other states, wasted no time on public opinion, or debate.  Sales were quickly halted while consumers and producers were forced to adapt, all in the name of safety and health, all with the backing of the CDC.

Meanwhile Michiganders, and the entire nation, were bombarded with reports of opioid addiction and death.  According to the same CDC, 2017 saw 70,237 drug overdoses in the United States, a number that rose by 9.6% over 2016, an annual increase of 9,743 deaths.  Among those they place opioids - mainly synthetic opioids (other than methadone) - responsible for 67.8% or approximately 47,600 deaths.  Published just this past November 27, 2019, a study found on the CDC website (Opioid-Related Hospitalization and Its Association With Chronic Diseases: Findings From the National Inpatient Sample, 2011-2015) identified 3,239,136 opioid-related hospitalization cases among their sample from January 1, 2011 to September 30, 2015 (approximately 56,826 a month or 681,912 annually).  On the CDC’s list of states with a “statistically significant increase” in drug overdose death rates from 2016 to 2017 are Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  Twenty-two of the fifty states in the union, or 44% of the states.

While, according to CDC data, vape cartridges killed 52 people and hospitalized 2,400 over the past three months, opioids, based on the CDC’s data, killed 11,898 people (228 times that of vape) and hospitalized 170,478 (71 times that of vape).  During this time there have been no stoppages of sales, no disruption of supply chains, and no efforts to alter the opioid market, apart from a campaign to convince the general public to use the word ‘disorder’ rather than ‘addiction’ when referring to the surviving victims of these dangerous, and all too often lethal, substances.

Data Shows 99.99% Driving
High Dec 1 Posed No Danger

News outlets across the state reported a 51-year old man driving a pickup truck, while under the influence of marijauna, crashed into a Michigan State trooper during the first day of adult-use sales on December 1st.  The story, paired with a warning from the Michigan State Police on the dangers of driving while high on THC, was shared on social media and became a talking point for anti-legalization advocates.

What was not reported was that, coupled with a poll from the University of Michigan conducted last January, and numbers from the first day adult-use sales, that means that 1 out of 152,200 Michigan residents who were driving while stoned caused an accident.  A whopping 99.999342969777% of automobile operators who were high on December 1st and driving did not cause any accidents.

The poll, which surveyed 790 medical marijuana patients, concluded that about 50% of those asked had driven while high.  Recent estimates place the total number of medical marijuana card holders in the state at approximately 300,000.  At the same time an estimated 2,200 individuals lined up to purchase adult-use marijuana on December 1st, according to news reports.  All totalled and tallied, the threat cannabis users pose to other drivers amounts to less than a fraction of one percent. 

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