Editor’s note: This story has been clarified based on new information from the city of Grand Rapids that three recreational cannabis dispensaries have received preliminary land use approval.
GRAND RAPIDS — Retail recreational cannabis sales started Friday in Grand Rapids, while three more adult-use dispensaries have received preliminary city approval.
The highly anticipated sale of recreational cannabis in Grand Rapids arrived with Fluresh LLC, which became the first dispensary in the city to sell adult-use products on Friday.
Fluresh, located at 1213 Phillips Ave. SW, was also the first medical cannabis dispensary to open in Grand Rapids in February. The company added an indoor cultivation facility at its location in July. Fluresh is requiring adult use customers to place orders online for curbside pick-up or delivery, and allowing medical patients to shop in-store with an appointment.
The company saw about 700 customers purchasing adult-use cannabis on Friday, said Fluresh Manager Nic Hernandez. The company hired seven additional employees before launching adult use sales and is working to fill a few more positions, Hernandez said.
“We work with quite a few local organizations to make sure we’re bringing in talent from the community and folks who live here,” Hernandez said.
Fluresh applied for an adult use retail license in the city in August, said CEO Tom Benson.
Grand Rapids could soon see at least three more recreational dispensaries. Cross Country, Green Skies - Healing Tree LLC and Oak Flint LLC have not yet received an adult use business license from the city, but each has received preliminary land use approval.
Terrapin Investment Fund III LLC, doing business as Terrapin Care Station, also recently received its license to handle recreational marijuana products at its Class C growing and processing facility at 2055 Oak Industrial Drive NE. The Colorado-based company does not have a storefront in Grand Rapids, but will now be able to sell its product for recreational use in addition to medical use at more than 40 dispensaries across the state.
Terrapin opened its grow facility in June 2020 when it was initially only able to grow medical cannabis at its 35,000-square-foot production facility.
Terrapin Director of Operations Matthew Gamalski said in a statement that he expects the addition of recreational distribution to lead to “exponential” growth at the facility.
“I think we’ll be creating more jobs in Grand Rapids in the near future,” Gamalski said. “The market here is definitely able to support more growth.”
Since voters statewide approved adult-use cannabis in November 2018, businesses were first required to obtain a medical license before seeking recreational license approval. Earlier this month, the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced that — starting March 1, 2021 — recreational cannabis applicants won’t have to first hold a medical cannabis license in an effort to address unregulated sales.
As of Monday, the city of Grand Rapids had approved 31 medical cannabis land uses, 28 of which have a medical provisioning center license. Of those 28, seven dispensaries are operating.
Applicants that were approved for medical provisioning centers were able to apply in late August through Oct. 30 for a license to sell recreational cannabis. The city will still receive applications after Oct. 30, but applications received in that window will be prioritized first and ranked on social equity criteria that includes hiring a diverse workforce, using diverse suppliers, having at least 25 percent local ownership, and having a prior cannabis conviction or suffering economic harm because of cannabis-related infractions.