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Hundreds wait in line for first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales

Kathleen Gray and Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press on

Published in News & Features

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Nearly two hours before the first sales of recreational marijuana began Sunday, the line at Arbor Wellness snaked around a city block.

And Nick St. Onge was the first in line, arriving from his Clinton Township home shortly before 7 a.m.

"It's a historic moment. I wanted to be one of the first ones to buy legal marijuana," he said. "To not have to worry about it anymore. I can just walk in and buy it instead of going to somebody on the street to find it. It's tested and that's comforting."

It wasn't a cheap trip for St. Onge. His bag of Head master Kush and Mint Milano flower rang in at $414, "But it will last me awhile."

The actual first sale happened at 9:50 a.m. to legendary cannabis activist John Sinclair, a Detroit resident who racked up three marijuana-related arrests in the 1960s and landed a 10-year prison sentence for giving an undercover cop two joints. His plight attracted the attention of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who headlined a concert in Ann Arbor in 1971 to bring attention to Sinclair's arrest.

He was joined by Ryan Basore, who also was arrested and spent three years in federal prison in Morgantown, West Virginia, for running medical cannabis dispensaries in Lansing during a time when there were few rules and regulations on medical marijuana. Their 10 pre-rolled joints of GG #4 and Forbidden Jelly totaled $160.35.


These days, Sinclair doesn't have to worry about finding weed, he's been smoking every day for decades. But he wanted to be in Ann Arbor to help celebrate the momentous moment for marijuana.

"To me, this is all for other people. I've been able to get weed every day since 1962," he said. "But I'm glad for the average person that they don't have to worry about it anymore."

Hundreds of people waited in lines at three Ann Arbor marijuana retail stores -- Arbor Wellness, Greenstone Provisions and Exclusive Brands -- on the first day of legal recreational sales in Michigan. Those were the only three shops open on Sunday with more to come as the state licenses more stores.

Customers came from near and far for the first day of recreational sales, including trips from Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The day was one part rampant capitalism with marijuana businesses dealing with the challenges created by the crowds and one part circus.


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