Recreational marijuana comes to Southwest Michigan

NILES, Mich. - The first recreational marijuana store Michiana welcomed lines of people as it opened it’s doors this morning.

Customers were out at the ReLeaf Center waiting in line as early as 8 a.m. when the store officially opened up at 10 a.m. All to be the first in Michiana to get the relief they’re seeking.

“I’m here to experience what it is to have legal, recreational marijuana,” Daniel Protherok, one customer said.

The wait to buy recreational marijuana in Southwest Michigan is finally over.

“How long have you been waiting for this,” ABC57 asked customer Dennis Hanthorn, “Oh a long time,” he said.

Anyone can come to the ReLeaf Center and buy marijuana for the first time in Niles, as long as they are 21 and have a valid id.

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

“I got some edibles and 2 grams,” Hanthorn said.

The store opened up its doors at 10 a.m., but people were lined up hours before.

“We’ve been here for quite a bit,” Protherok said. “Probably like 8:30, 9ish around that time.”

“We got here about an hour, a little over an hour earlier and we were 3rd or 4th in line,” Hanthorn said.

“We could potentially see 800 people,” George Pittenturf, the ReLeaf manager said.

The owner, telling many to sit in their cars because the wait was so long, but as the parking lot filled up and the line grew longer, many I spoke to said this is an opportunity they are eager to take.

“I’m excited,” Rick Anstiss

“I’m hoping to find something I have never seen before and fall in love,” Protherok said.

And those without a medical marijuana card from a doctor say they can now get the ReLeaf they’re looking for.

“If you consume cannabis, any way that you do it, you’re doing it medicinally,” Anstiss said.

“He told me to quit smoking cigarettes but he didn’t tell me to quit smoking weed,” Hanthorn said.

Some saying it’s a stepping stone to more job growth.

“It’s great, providing us to move forward in our businesses as I get bigger and others get bigger, providing more jobs. The economy is coming,” Anstiss said.

“It’s great for the city alone to let us do this and be a part of the community,” Pittenturf said. “I’m just glad that we’ve reached this point, it’s history really.

You go inside show your ID, they scan it and then one at a time you go into the storeroom where a budtender personally helps you.

The manager tells ABC57 it’s about $20 for a gram but that price will likely go down once they harvest more of their own marijuana plants.

Right now, they are only selling 2 grams worth per person since the demand is so high.

But as we speak they are cultivating more and more marijuana plants.

“We’ve come a long way today since we started, it’s just we have a long line and we’re just really happy to be here, everything’s going really well,” Mike Lumetta, the General Manager of the Cultivation Facility said.

He took ABC57 around their grow facility and says they are almost ready to harvest.

Lumetta said he is just happy to help more people.

“The restrictions to doing medical were rather narrow so now that it’s recreational, anyone with any ailment that’s outside of that criteria can have access,” he said. “Happy to do the medical and happy to serve more people in the recreational market.”

They are open every day so if you missed their grand recreational marijuana opening  Thursday morning, don’t worry cause you can go back any time during business hours, and the line will probably be shorter if you wait.

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