First medical marijuana store in Niles may cause problems in Indiana

NOW: First medical marijuana store in Niles may cause problems in Indiana

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The first medical marijuana store in Niles is now open for business. Starting today Michigan residents can go to the Releaf Center on the cities north side to purchase products.

The Releaf Center is huge. Anyone with a medical marijuana card and valid ID can go in get whatever they need.

They have a lot of different products from cartridges and pipes to edibles and normal medicinal marijuana.

The company’s grow spaces are empty right now, but soon they will house marijuana plants.

The general manager tells me they plan to grow a lot.

“Starting in a new community is nice because we get to help end the stigma on marijuana. We get to show people that what we’ve been told in the past, necessarily isn’t true and it’s more for helping people,” Tyler Trembczynski, General Manager of the Releaf Center said.

Although they are only selling medical marijuana, he said they plan on selling recreationally next year---after the city of Niles gave recreational marijuana the green light recently.

But there could be a potential problem with the store being so close to the state line.

The Releaf center is not the first medical marijuana store in Michigan but it is the closest one to the state of Indiana, about a 15-minute drive, which may cause problems since in Indiana having any marijuana is automatically a misdemeanor offense.

“Possession of marijuana is illegal in Indiana. It is today and it will be tomorrow,” Sgt. Ted Bohner with the Indiana State Police said.

With the Indiana state line so close to the store, Bohner said it would be naïve of them to not see the potential problem.

“I know people are going to roll the dice and most likely go across the border and try to purchase it just as they have to go to other states as well,” he said.

But he’s not too worried.

“We’re going to keep doing our jobs the way we’ve been doing them for years and years,” Sgt. Bohner said. “When we encounter it, we're going to deal with it just the way we’ve always have. It’s a criminal charge and it will be handled just like that.”

He said there won’t be any freebies because we are so close. But Trembczynski, said they have security.

“You do have to have a medical card. You do have to have a driver's license. They have to match and you have to be of age,” he said.

When it comes to fake IDs?

“We don’t have a scanner yet,” Trembczynski said. “It will be more of like up to us seeing.”

But he doesn’t expect that to happen.

“It’s possible but I don’t think so,” he said.

Sgt. Bohner said his biggest fear isn’t the fact some people may be crossing the border to buy medical marijuana, but the fact that they may be under the influence driving back.

“We don’t need any other crashes caused by people being under the influence of drugs or alcohol and we don’t need any additional fatalities,” he said.

According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute, in 2018, crashes rose in the first states to legalize retail sales of recreational marijuana.

In 2018, there were 111 impaired collisions in Indiana, 26 of which are drug-impaired and 8 were both alcohol and drug-impaired.

Bohner said he hopes those numbers do not increase.

When it comes to recreational marijuana, you’ll most likely see those shops popping up next year.

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