Michigan recently joined the list of states allowing adult-use cannabis, bringing the current U.S. legalization count to 11 states and D.C. During the first two weeks of legal adult-use, Michigan saw just over $3 million in sales which contributed half a million dollars to tax revenue. In comparison, Illinois saw $20 million in sales during the first two weeks of legalization in early 2020. While Michigan sales are slower to roll out than it’s neighboring state, it’s still a promising emerging marketing for the legal cannabis industry.  

How did cannabis become legal in Michigan?

Cannabis legalization happens in two ways — through a signature-backed ballot initiative introduced by advocates or cannabis business leaders, or through legislation passed by the state. To date, Illinois is the only state to legalize cannabis through state legislation. The remaining 10 states and D.C. put cannabis legalization on the ballot through collecting signatures and passing the vote. 

Medicinal cannabis was legalized in Michigan in 2008, with 63% support. In Michigan, advocates of legalizing cannabis submitted 365,000 verified signatures in November 2017 to get recreational cannabis on the ballot for the following year. The initiative was largely backed by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Initially, the Detroit Free Press reported the state Republicans planned to submit legislation allowing adult-use sales. The legislature planned to cut income tax and offset the decrease through cannabis revenue. However, the June 5 deadline to submit the legislation passed, which means cannabis legalization would have to pass by ballot vote in November 2018. 

Various surveys reported between 56-61% of Michigan residents supported the initiative, and in 2018, the ballot measure passed with 56% of the vote. 

Before legalization, possession of any amount of cannabis resulted in a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year incarceration and a $2,000 fine. The sale or cultivation of cannabis was a felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and $10,000,000 in fines (depending on plant count). 

What are the current cannabis laws in Michigan?

Thanks to the passing of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act in 2018, adult-use cannabis laws now allow adults over the age of 21 to possess 2.5 ounces in public, up to 10 ounces at home, and cultivate 12 plants at home. Residents over the age of 21 can also possess up to 15 grams of concentrates at a given time. Public consumption or driving under the influence is not legal in Michigan. 

In addition, the act introduced a system for legal cannabis sales through retail locations, with the addition of a 10% excise tax (along with the state’s 6% sales tax). Under the new law, Michigan counties could opt-in or out for allowing retail cannabis locations. 

Why are sales slower in Michigan? 

Currently, over two-thirds of Michigan’s counties have opted-out of allowing retail cannabis locations. Some counties cited wanting to wait for the legislation to refine before allowing dispensaries, some wanted to see how neighboring counties would fare, while others flat-out don’t want cannabis within their county lines. Detroit was slow to roll out its retail locations, which contributed to slower sales during the initial period. Due to the opt-out counties, Michigan is seeing a smaller trend in sales as retail locations are few and far between for consumers. Also, the retail locations available are experiencing low inventory due to the high demand and lack of other options for consumers. 

Due to the quick legalization turnaround time in Michigan, many businesses focused on building out their teams in 2019 so they can hit the ground running in 2020. Dan Barzottini, a Sr. Account Executive for Vangst comments on his findings for the Michigan market. 

“What we saw last year was a lot of early adopters gearing up for production. The majority of clients in 2019 were looking for Directors of Cultivation, Directors of Processing and Directors of Operations, just after construction was completed and funding secured. Once production was established, those that were also retail-focused started to source for Directors of Retail. In 2020, we are seeing a lot of similarities to 2019 for newer license winners, but those who had a jump start are establishing their greater workforce. A lot of retail associates and budtenders are being brought on to help get stores running. Michigan is a METRC state [meaning the seed to sale process must be tracked for compliance], so a lot of teams are looking for compliance professionals familiar with seed to sale software who can keep up with the new demands of state regulation.”

Where can you find cannabis in Michigan? 

Although there aren’t tons of locations to choose from just yet, more and more dispensaries are going through the licensing process in Michigan. Check out current legal retail locations below. To purchase adult-use cannabis in Michigan, you must have a valid I.D. proving you’re over 21. Due to the shortage of cannabis within the state, you can expect to pay between $50-60 for an eighth, which is much higher than eighths in mature cannabis markets like Colorado. As more dispensaries open, the price will likely drop as supply increases. 

License status

Map created by Scott Levin | slevin@mlive.com in CARTO

How can you work in Michigan’s cannabis industry?

Unlike Nevada or Colorado where cannabis industry employees must obtain a badge for employment, Michigan does not require cannabis employees to go through a screening process. Applicants must be 21 and pass any other requirements the business puts in place, but job seekers do not need to go through a state licensing process. 

The cannabis industry is broken up into four verticals — cultivation, manufacturing, lab/extraction and retail. If you’re interested in growing cannabis, you’ll want to look into cultivation positions. These positions include growers, trimmers, directors of cultivation and more. If you’re interested in extracting THC, CBD or other cannabinoids, testing or working in a lab, the lab/extraction vertical is for you. These positions are great for those with a degree in chemistry. The manufacturing vertical packages the cannabis for sale. Packagers, production technicians and directors of manufacturing fall under this sector. Finally, the retail locations sell cannabis at a dispensary location. If you’re interested in becoming a budtender, store manager, or director of retail, you’ll want to look into retail positions. 

If you’re interested in learning what these positions make, check out our 2019 cannabis industry salary guide

When you’re ready to start applying for positions, head over to our website to check out full-time positions. If you’re new to the industry, create an account on our Vangst GIGS platform to search for entry-level temporary positions like budtending

How can you hire in Michigan’s cannabis industry?

As demand for cannabis remains steady in Michigan, businesses will start looking to expand their staff to keep up with the market. If you’re a business in Michigan interested in growing your staff, our team of industry talent specialists are experts at finding the right person for your needs. Vangst offers solutions to fit all your hiring needs, including our Vangst GIGS platform, which helps connect you to seasonal employees in your area for high-volume or harvest times. Through Vangst GIGS, we verify, I-9, time track and pay the employees so you don’t have to worry about details. To learn more about our hiring solutions, fill out the contact form below. 

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