Lansing marijuana dispensary Pincanna’s website reads, “a rich Michigan history; a bright Michigan future.” The marijuana industry is growing in Lansing with Michigan raking in $1.8 billion in the last fiscal year. The weed sector of the Michigan economy is still largely locally-owned and grown.
The marijuana industry in Michigan has created 32,000 jobs since the legalization of medical marijuana in 2008 and recreational marijuana 10 years later in 2018. While these jobs expand across the state, this does not mean that Michigan is employing companies out-of-state for their companies to flourish.
Michigan Cannabis Industry Association Executive Director Robin Schneider said there is an assumption that large multi-state operators, or MSOs, in the marijuana industry that control many facets of the weed industry including growing, distributing and provisioning, are the majority of marijuana companies and dispensaries in Michigan.
However, Schneider said could not be further from the truth. The majority of the dispensaries in Lansing being locally owned by residents of Greater Lansing.
Schneider said most of the larger companies started as one small caregiver store, which are the stores that distribute to individuals with a medical marijuana license.
Schneider said Michigan voters also approved a “very free market” ballot initiative that would specifically prohibit the state of Michigan from limiting the number of businesses that could open dispensaries. This allowed for what Schneider calls more, “mom and pops” shops in their membership, serving as a deterrent for larger corporations to come in and consolidate.
"I think we have one of the best regulated programs in the country because it is so free market and so inclusive of Michigan-owned companies,” Schneider said.
Another unique aspect of Michigan’s marijuana industry, according to Schneider is that Michigan does not require dispensaries to be vertically integrated or structured, where companies grow, process and retail their own products. This allows for companies to open a shop, then become profitable, allowing them to expand and integrate later.
Pincanna founding partner Robert Nusbaum started the dispensary under the vertical strategy. He said that if companies are not vertical, companies will have a harder time being successful due to the amount of control being vertically integrated gives the company, making Pincanna less dependent on the wholesale market and changing prices.
“I absolutely believe that it has contributed a great deal to our success as well as anybody else who is vertical has a much better chance for success,” Nusbaum said. “It has been a very tough and rough market in Michigan. As everybody knows, prices have plummeted and everything and it has made the vertical strategy even more important.”
Nusbaum said it's possible for Pincanna to expand, but the store would stay in Michigan.
Nusbaum unlike Usman does not see a large problem with MSOs coming into Michigan. He said the competition could be a way for the industry to better itself and how it does business.
However, Nusbaum feels confident that Pincanna and other homegrown, home-operated dispensaries are successful because of their deep roots and history in Michigan.
“This whole thing morphed from helping the people of Michigan in the beginning, in a medical way, and now of course, recreational is 99% of the business,” Nusbaum said. “But our people are still trained to listen and to react to people's needs.”
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