Ann Arbor’s recreational marijuana businesses reported higher levels of sales since local retailers took advantage of the statewide legalization of marijuana. Skymint joined five other cannabis retailers in Ann Arbor licensed to sell recreational marijuana on Jan. 9.
Skymint, which is owned by Green Peak Innovations, is the largest marijuana company in Michigan. The dispensary has been open since November, and is one of six locations throughout the state, including one in Flint, which opened on Thursday.
Summer Ransom, Skymint’s president of retail, said gaining a license for recreational sale has transformed business at the Ann Arbor location.
“It’s been night and day for how busy we are,” Ransom said. “It has increased business by five times — certain days even more than that — so it’s been pretty crazy.”
To adjust to the influx of customers, the location has hired six additional staff. The store is staying open for an extra three hours to reduce lines and wait times once the new staff are trained.
Currently, approximately 93 percent of customers at Skymint’s Ann Arbor location are recreational users, according to Ransom. However, Skymint has taken measures to ensure medical users are minimally affected by the inflated wait times caused by crowds of recreational users.
Ransom said medical customers are permitted to skip lines to enter the store. Additionally, she said one of four registers at checkout is an “express lane” intended to accelerate their experience.
“Recreational customers need a lot more assistance; they have a lot more questions, so one-on-one time with them is probably triple what we would spend on a med patient,” Ransom said. “We want to make sure med patients aren’t kind of feeling that pain, so we do what we can to expedite their process.”
Currently, there are more products available to medical users than to recreational users within the store due to state limits on the amount of product available to transfer from medical to recreational inventory. Ransom said Skymint is working toward increasing its recreational inventory because their growing facility received licensure to grow marijuana for recreational use.That product can be shipped directly to the store. However, Ransom said the company aims to continue to serve both medical and recreational users in the long run.
“I think most people, once rec comes on, pretty much go only rec, but we’re trying to continue to serve med, so eventually I see our inventory being split fifty-fifty, and hopefully we’ll be able to serve the same exact skews and products to both med and rec,” Ransom said.
The layout of the Skymint dispensary in Ann Arbor, with product displayed in cases on the floor and on the walls, is meant to encourage new recreational users to browse and learn about products at their leisure, Ransom said. Customers can find informational signage next to each product explaining how they work and what to expect. She said that this sets the store apart from most other dispensaries, where product is typically kept behind the register.
LSA sophomore Gabriel Ferguson, a medical marijuana user, said his experience was positively impacted by interactions with staff and recommends Skymint to recreational users.
“(The staff is) very friendly, they talked with me for like an hour about picking out the best stuff,” Ferguson said. “It’s the kind of place that you would want to chill in. It’s very homey. I came out of there and talked for like an hour about the experience I had, because it was the coolest dispensary I’ve been in.”
Ransom said the company has submitted applications for recreational licensure at all its locations within municipalities that have opted in to recreational sales. However, the applications have yet to be approved at any location outside Ann Arbor.
Supporters of marijuana legalization point to recreational availability as a step forward in terms of safety and destigmatization of marijuana use. Jeff Radway, Green Peak Innovations CEO, echoed this sentiment in a news release.
“This is a historic moment for our company, but more importantly, it’s another step towards destigmatizing and legitimizing our industry,” Radway said. “We are thrilled to offer patients and recreational consumers a full range of premium marijuana products through a safe and secure supply chain.”
Eighty percent of Skymint’s inventory is grown by Green Peak Innovations, with the remaining amount sourced from other businesses. Ferguson viewed this as an attractive feature of the dispensary.
“It’s all homegrown, so you don’t have to worry about what’s in it,” Ferguson said. “It’s not a GMO weed with who-knows-what inside … it’s ‘healthy weed.’”
Ransom believes knowing the source of the marijuana is a crucial factor that sets recreational marijuana sold in dispensaries apart from the black market.
“This offers clean, clean product,” Ransom said. “They know where it’s grown, they know how it’s been processed, it’s all been tested, it’s safe. It’s nothing but beneficial really.”