Here in Michigan, Oakland County is well known for its anti-marijuana reputation. Officials has routinely raided any type of medical marijuana provisioning center that has opened in it’s jurisdiction. This has a lot to do with the county sheriff, and former attorney general Bill Schuette. When these raids happened, the state was not offering licenses for dispensaries to operate. Dispensaries were simply operating based off the local governments approval. In Oakland County, the interpretation of the law was always that patients could only obtain cannabis from their registered caregiver and that caregivers may only support 5 patients. So any establishment providing medicine to more then the same 5 registered patients, was violating the law in their eyes and worthy of a large amount of police resources. This approach caused a large cluster of shops to open up shop in Detroit, outside of Oakland County.
Now that the state of Michigan is issuing licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate, one CEO has his eyes on Oakland County. Greenhouse is the name of the dispensary that has been approved, and it opened it’s doors to patients on February 1st. It’s located in Walled Lake and the owners are not worried about dealing with law enforcement because they plan on strictly following every rule and regulation. If the state doesn’t start licensing more cultivators, then running a successful business will be difficult for them. Especially with all the unlicensed dispensaries being given an extension to operate until their applications begin to be processed. However, I think that Greenhouse is still in a very good position to be successful because of its location. There is a lot of money in Oakland County and many residents who have been driving to Detroit will happily make the switch locally.
With the recreational use of cannabis being legalized last November, there will be even more of an opportunity for Greenhouse to be successful. This licensed facility will already have the majority of the resources needed when the time comes to apply for recreational licenses in a year or two. The recreational licenses will be much harder to obtain for those who want to start from scratch before legal sales begin. It took Michigan 10 years before they created a regulated system for medical marijuana sales, so it has to be much quicker this time around. Regulators have got to be feeling the pressure now. Voters have made it clear it’s time to draft policies outside of prohibition.
One problem the store will likely have to deal with is an overflow of patients. Improvising a balanced system that efficiently process each person without making them feel rushed is key. Nobody will want to come back if they feel like they can’t make the proper decision due to pressure. I wouldn’t want to be the one creating the forecast for their first year of operation, as there are no similar businesses to base numbers off of. Luckily for Greenhouse, it will likely take a while before another store successfully obtains a license in any county the way things have been going. They really need to capitalize on the lack of local competition, so they can invest later on when the competition comes. It will be easy to differentiate their brand if they receive a big enough head start. Before we know it Oakland County will be an place of opportunity for these entrepreneurs instead of an area of restricted access. Those who took the risk years ago in this county have to be shaking their heads wishing they had waited for this profitable and legal opportunity.