A Michiana native is one of the youngest dispensary owners in the country

NOW: A Michiana native is one of the youngest dispensary owners in the country

CASSOPOLIS, Mich. -- A Michiana native is one of the youngest dispensary owners in the country.

Justin ‘JJ’ Smith got started at the age of just 18, planning to open his very own pot shop in his hometown of Cassopolis. Smith is the co-owner of Sunset Coast Provisions. 

“Being young, I think I bring something different to the table,” Smith said. “I’m 25 now. I was 24 when we got the approval for the license here and got everything started. But I’ve really been chasing it since 18, 19.”

It’s a dream he’s been working towards since he was a teenager.

 “Not too many people my age are accepted in this industry or even have the capital or the means to get into this industry,” Smith said.

But JJ never let that stop him. It all started for him in high school with an assignment from one of his teachers at Ross Beatty High.

 “This was my business plan. It was actually, we had to make the business plan to fit around St. Joe. So I had a retail shop downstairs that was just basic glassware, the dispensary was upstairs, and the third level which was like a roof deck would be for consumption, And that was the business model in 2015.”

Less than a decade has passed since JJ drafted that plan sitting in a high school classroom.

He’s got the dispensary and retail shop and he’s working on adding a consumption lounge. He’s even taking that plan a step further with a massive grow operation launching in early 2022.

Nick Luhowy, the Director of Cultivation at Sunset Coast, is overseeing the marijuana grow with plans to house thousands of plants and a massive genetic industry. He says it’s easy working for JJ and his age has never really been an issue.

 “To see it at a young age is like seeing a super young Nascar driver. It happens. We just have happen to have our Nascar driver!” Luhowy said.

The marijuana industry can be hard to break into especially for those without much experience… or cash.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, start-up costs for a dispensary like Sunset Coast can easily total over a million dollars.

“It was a long journey,” Smith said. “We started with meeting with the town, getting them on board to see our vision, our business plan. From there, we talked to investors, and going over the process of what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it.”

The marijuana industry in Michigan has grown quickly in three short years, becoming the third-largest state for recreational marijuana.

Cannabis sales are projected to top 45 billion dollars in the US by 2025. That’s 8 times the budget for police in New York City and 4 times the annual NFL budget.

 “If you look at what the alcohol industry has done over the last 100 years, and how far they came, I think there’s nothing but growth in this industry,” Smith said.

JJ plans to be a part of that growth in Michigan, living the high life, you might say.

 “You don’t need the fancy degree, you don’t need 40 years old and have 20 years of experience. JJ is young and understands and has a better pulse for cannabis, the community, the industry,” Luhowy said.

You can check out Sunset Coast at 930 East State Road in Cassopolis.

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