Not even a pandemic can slow Michigan’s marijuana industry

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Tuesday’s date of April 20th, also known as 420, is a holiday of sorts for marijuana users.

And while the pandemic took its toll on thousands of businesses across the state over the last year, Michiagn’s cannabis industry stayed strong. In fact, some experts say it grew.

Now, that sticky green is bringing even more green to the state. Last year was the first of legalized adult-use marijuana in MIchigan and it generated more than $82 million in tax revenue. The projections for this year are double that, at $165 million and a lot of the money is going places that need it the most.

“Forty-eight million of that is in sales tax revenue so that gets distributed like any sales tax revenue would,” said Andrew Brisbo, the Executive Director of the Marijuana Regulatory Act. “But the 34 million in excess tax goes 35 percent to roads, 35 percent to schools, 15 percent to municipalities and 15 percent to counties.”

That happened despite a pandemic that slowed businesses across not just the staet, but the country. If anything, experts think the pandemic boosted the industry.

“This industry in particular seemed to be unabated by the pandemic,” Brisbo said. “We saw a doubling in the total sales between November of 2019 and march of 2020 and between March and July it doubled again and it almost seemed to feed into it.”

The 2021 projection is $1.3 billion statewide in total sales, but the true impact is much larger than that.

“It’s difficult to gauge the total economic impact because you’re talking about job creating, you’re talking about service industries, talking about tax revenue from property taxes and re purposing unused buildings,” Brisbo said. “That 3 billion dollars of impact that we expect…is fairly direct impact…but the overall impact will be significantly higher.”

That’s not to say the industry is without flaws or areas to improve. Studies show that the money is largely going to white-owned businesses and people and the next mission for people in charge is to create a more level playing field.

“We’re always looking at issues of social equity and restorative justice in this space where we saw disproportionate impact on certain communities or individuals and ensuring that we have a diversity of interests in ownership ranks among the industry,” Brisbo said. ” (Also) that we’re providing pathways for those communities most impacted by the war on drugs to achieve some of that economic benefit.”

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