Recreational marijuana sales begin in Evart

Lit Provisioning Centers opens to long lines, excited customers

EVART — Lit Provisioning Centers in Evart opened its doors to a line of customers ready and waiting to take advantage of the opportunity to legally purchase marijuana products for recreational use Friday, Dec. 6, becoming northwest Michigan's first adult-use recreational marijuana retail location.

Lit — which is owned and operated by Lume Cannabis Company — launched the sale of recreational use marijuana products with a ribbon cutting, welcoming an estimated 750 customers from nearby and far away.

"The addition of recreational products means the benefits and enjoyment found around cannabis can now be experienced by anyone in the state over the age of 21," said Doug Hellyar, the president and COO of Lume. "We are very excited and proud to be one of the first to offer this within the state and are grateful for all those who helped pave the way to end the prohibition of cannabis.

A news release issued Sunday, Dec. 8, said due to the overwhelming response, the facility ran out of available flower for recreational customers after just two days.

"We are humbled that our first weekend of adult-use sales was so well received," Hellyar said. "People traveled from across the state, braved the cold and stood in line for hours to be among the first to purchase recreational marijuana."

This is a clear indication of the demand for high-quality cannabis products among Michiganders, the news release stated.

One man traveled from Wisconsin, about a 10-hour drive, to purchase edibles — prepared food products which contain active ingredients found in marijuana. He drove as far as Indiana on Thursday and headed to Michigan at 6 a.m. Friday to arrive in time for the opening.

"I've been waiting about half an hour so far," he said about 9:15 a.m. "I'll wait in line until I get in there. I drove a long way. I'm not going home empty-handed."

Dan Reed, of Greenville, said he left home this morning about 7 a.m. to get in line for the opening, hoping to purchase some flowering marijuana and some edibles.

"I was in Colorado a couple of weeks ago, so I'm really, really excited about this," Reed said. "I'll wait in line if I have to stay here all day."

Prior to opening for recreational marijuana, Lit sold marijuana products to medical patients. Reed City resident Jade Young said she has been using Lit's medical products for a long time, but still made a stop Friday for the big recreational opening.

"This doesn't really change much for me, because I have the medical card, but it makes it better for the community to open it up for everyone," she said.

One local customer, Richard Landenberg, of Evart, said he was glad to have recreational use products available because being approved to buy medical marijuana "is lot of hassle and paperwork."

"I am a veteran, and I take over 27 pills a day," Landenberg said. "It's better to get something from here, than to take all those pills. It's just easier to do this, and then I don't have to worry about it."

Farwell resident, Alexander Symanski, said he was looking for some "very nice indica" to help him with his osteoarthritis.

"It is difficult for me to get to sleep some nights, especially in the cold weather,' he said. "I've been using pharmaceuticals to reduce the inflammation, but there is only so much of that you can take, so a little indica will help me sleep and ease the pain."

The provisioning center facility is relatively small, so to maintain order, managers said, only five customers were allowed in the products area of the facility at a time, while five were seated in a waiting area.

When customers entered the facility, Lit employees verified that they were 21 or older. From there, customers entered the products area, where service personnel, referred to as "lumenaires" were on hand to describe different products and answer questions.

When customers wanted to make a transaction, store personnel took the order and filled it in the back of the store, similar to a retail pharmacy. There was no actual merchandise on the floor to purchase.

Lit opened its medical marijuana dispensary in 2018, and received their license for recreational sales Dec. 4.

Lume Cannabis Company also owns and operates a cultivation center in Evart. The 48,000-square-foot facility currently employs 50 people, and plans to add an additional 100,000-square-foot facility in 2020, Hellyar said.

"We grow right here in Evart," he said. "All of our products are grown and cultivated in a state-of-the-art facility, which allows us to ensure consistent aroma, appearances and effects. Supply for all our stores will come from this cultivation facility."

The company plans to open 20 stores across the state by the end of 2020.

Lit will soon be adding a delivery service, with a team based in Evart dedicated to delivering products to the homes of both medical and recreational customers, Hellyar said.

"We are fully licensed by the state for delivery, and each location where we are licensed to deliver will have a delivery hub," he said.

"Lit will have a wide assortment of THC-based products, such as flower or in pre-rolls, concentrates, edibles and topicals," he said. "There will be no difference between what we sell for medical or recreational, because the products will come out of the same cultivation."

The main difference between recreational and medical products is the cost. Because of state regulations, a 10-percent excise tax is added to recreational purchases that does not apply to medical purchases, Hellyar said.

Costs for products will differ depending on the type, strength and weight of the product, as well. One gram of "value-tier" flower can cost as little as $10 per gram, while "top-tier" flower can cost $20 per gram, he said.

Lit offers a 10-percent discount for seniors and veterans, which will apply to both medical and recreational purchases.

State regulations limit customer purchases to 2 1/2 ounces daily or 10 ounces monthly for medical or recreational use. For edibles, such as gummies and chocolates, 16 ounces is equal to 1 ounce of usable product. For liquids, such as tinctures and topicals, 36 fluid ounces is equal to 1 ounce of usable product.

In November 2018, passage of Proposal 1 legalized marijuana for recreational use in Michigan. The state began accepting applications for retail sales Nov. 1, and sale of recreational use products began Sunday.