Michigan's Economic Evolution: From Autos to Cannabis

Published 4 hours ago Business & Industry
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Michigan, known for its natural beauty and rich history, has experienced significant economic shifts over the decades. Surrounded by the largest freshwater lakes globally, Michigan boasts vast forests, sandy beaches, beautiful state parks, pristine inland lakes, and some of the top golf courses in the country. Often referred to as the "Winter, Water Wonderland," Michigan is a top vacation destination featuring historic sites like Mackinac Island, which USA Today recently named the "Best Travel Destination" in the United States for 2024.

After World War II, Michigan epitomized economic prosperity. The state was home to the Big Three automakers – General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler – headquartered in Detroit. The booming auto industry created a prosperous middle class, attracting talent from across the nation and the globe, as people flocked to Michigan in pursuit of the American Dream.

However, the economic landscape has dramatically changed over the years. Starting in the 1980s, General Motors began shedding jobs, and since 1990, employment in auto plants, parts factories, and corporate offices has declined by 35%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This decline also affected ancillary businesses such as restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and real estate. Edmunds reports that domestic auto sales by GM, Ford, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) have plummeted from nearly 70% of the market in 1999 to 37% last year. Today, more people are employed in Michigan's hospitals than in its auto assembly plants.

Several factors contributed to this decline. Auto executives underestimated foreign competitors, believing American cars would always lead in quality and appeal. Meanwhile, the Auto Workers Union demanded high wages and benefits, driving up manufacturing costs and auto prices. This led to a scenario where foreign automakers could offer better cars at lower prices, ultimately outcompeting American manufacturers.

The decline of the auto industry had devastating effects on Michigan's cities. Flint, once a bustling hub for General Motors, became a ghost town almost overnight when GM closed its operations there. The city's economy was destroyed, and Flint later gained notoriety as "The Murder City." Lansing, Michigan's capital, faced similar devastation when GM shuttered its manufacturing operations there, and other towns across the state experienced comparable fates as production moved to states with lower labor costs and fewer union restrictions.

Despite these challenges, Michigan remains under Democratic leadership, which recently repealed the state's "Right to Work" law. This legislation had allowed Michigan to attract new businesses by not requiring workers to pay union dues. Its repeal could make it more difficult for Michigan to compete for new business opportunities.

Today, Michigan's economy is recognized for a different industry: cannabis. Michigan has surpassed California as the top cannabis market in the U.S. by sales volume, with per capita sales of $132.41, tripling California's $44.21. Market sales reached over $3 billion in 2023 and are projected to hit $4 billion by 2028. However, despite this success, Michigan's cannabis companies face intense competition and struggle to stay afloat in the recreational market.

In summary, Michigan has transitioned from being a global leader in automotive manufacturing to becoming a significant player in the cannabis industry. While the state's economy has seen better days, Michigan continues to adapt and find new avenues for growth and prosperity.

Businessman Who Bribed Michigan Cannabis Board Writes Book from Prison

Published 1 day ago Legal & Crime
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John Dalaly, an Oakland County businessman who pleaded guilty to bribing the chairman of Michigan's medical marijuana licensing board, has written a book titled "The Dalaly Way: Conquering Crisis" while serving his prison sentence.

The 194-page book, available on Amazon, aims to share Dalaly's "strategy of self-directed learning with others." It includes photos of Dalaly with current Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former Gov. Rick Snyder, and primarily offers life advice and guidance on handling a prison term.

The Dalaly Way: Conquering Crisis - Front Cover
The Dalaly Way: Conquering Crisis - Back Cover

Dalaly briefly addresses the crime that led to his incarceration. He describes himself as an "industrialist" who entered the cannabis industry to "improve the lives of patients while creating jobs and supporting my family." He found obtaining a marijuana license to be difficult, leading him to seek assistance.

"I reached out to people I knew in the state to explore strategies for working with the licensing board," Dalaly wrote. "I thought I found my edge in a consultant connected to the government and leaped at the chance. In providing them compensation without doing my due diligence, my eagerness overcame my good sense. To my eternal shame, the compensation I provided this consultant was against the law."

Dalaly admitted to giving at least $68,200 in cash payments and other benefits to Rick Johnson, a former lobbyist and then-chairman of the licensing board, believing these expenditures would influence or reward Johnson, according to his plea agreement.

In September, a Michigan judge sentenced Dalaly to 28 months in prison. That same month, Johnson, a former Michigan House speaker, was sentenced to 55 months.

Dalaly, then 71, surrendered to a correctional facility in West Virginia on November 30.

His book states that federal prison policies permit inmates to prepare manuscripts for "private use or publication while in custody without staff approval."

"By documenting my journey through prison, I memorialize the various ways that a person can work to build mental health with a deliberate, intentional plan to prepare," Dalaly's book says.

Houghton Welcomes New Nirvana Cannabis Shop

Published 2 days ago Business & Industry
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A new cannabis shop, Nirvana, celebrated its opening in Houghton on Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. This marks the tenth Nirvana dispensary in Michigan. The Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce facilitated the event.

Nirvana Houghton's Assistant Manager, Scott Curtin, described the company as laid-back and highlighted the distinctiveness of their offerings. “You can expect a lot more from what the others carry. We have our own brands that they won't have,” Curtin said.

Curtin emphasized that the store's unique appeal lies in its superior products and competitive pricing. “We stand out more just because of our loyalty to the customers that we have that come in. We offer a very wide rewards system and loyalty system, and I think that really grasps a lot of people to come in,” he added.

The new shop is situated on Ridge Street near Walmart. Its operating hours are from 9 A.M. to 8 P.M. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 6 P.M. on Sunday.

Baker College Partners with House of Dank for Cannabis Internship Program

Published 2 days ago Safety & Education
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Baker College has partnered with House of Dank (HOD), a well-known cannabis brand in Michigan, to offer cannabis-related internships in Metro Detroit. This collaboration aims to develop a skilled workforce for the cannabis industry while providing students with thorough education and training.

The private college in Oakland County is launching three specialized cannabis certificates to prepare students for careers in the marijuana industry. Each course, available fully online, takes nine weeks to complete.

“Partnering with House of Dank allows us to bridge the gap between education and employment,” stated Kelley Suggs, public relations manager for Baker College. “Our goal is to ensure students not only gain valuable knowledge about the cannabis industry but also have the opportunity to apply these skills in real-world settings through internships and job opportunities.”

Program Highlights

The cannabis certificate programs, developed in collaboration with Green Flower, a leader in cannabis education, cover three essential areas: Advanced Dispensary Associate Skills Training, Cannabis Manufacturing, and Cannabis Cultivation. These programs are designed to meet the growing demand for skilled workers in the expanding cannabis industry.

As part of this initiative, House of Dank will conduct open interviews and plans to hire interns from Baker College's programs, aiming to place them by Labor Day weekend, coinciding with the annual Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats & Eats festival in downtown Royal Oak, Michigan.

"House of Dank has always been about innovation and pushing our industry forward. In keeping with this tradition, we have partnered with Baker College and their new cannabis education program to create a new pipeline of careers for their students. Starting at this year's Arts, Beats & Eats festival, we will introduce the first class of their graduates and our paid interns. We're excited for all who will visit Dankland and/or Dankway this year," said Michael P. DiLaura, House of Dank chief of corporate operations.

Affordable Prices Propel Michigan to Top of Cannabis Market

Published 2 days ago Business & Industry
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Michigan has become the leading cannabis market in the United States in terms of units sold, surpassing even California, according to data from market intelligence firm BDSA. Since late 2022, Michigan consumers have purchased more packages of cannabis products, including gummies, pre-rolls, and grams of flower, than those in California. This shift is significant, given California's population is nearly four times larger than Michigan's.

The primary reason for this trend is the price difference between the two states. While California's cannabis market generates more revenue overall—over $5 billion last year compared to Michigan's $3.06 billion—cannabis products are significantly cheaper in Michigan. For example, a one-gram pre-roll of the Cookies' Ridgeline Lantz strain costs $17.50 at Dr. Greenthumb's Cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles but only $7 at Gage Cannabis in Ferndale, Michigan.

California's higher prices are largely due to its taxation system. The state imposes a 15% excise tax on cannabis sales in addition to state sales taxes that range from 7.25% to 10.75%. Municipalities can also add local taxes, pushing the total tax rate on cannabis purchases up to 38% in some areas. In contrast, Michigan has a 10% excise tax and a 6% sales tax, with no additional local taxes allowed.

These high prices in California discourage consumers from transitioning from the illicit market to the legal one. California has long been a major supplier of illegal cannabis, and the established black market continues to thrive, presenting a significant challenge to the legal market.

Michigan's rapid legalization and market expansion also played a crucial role in its current standing. The state legalized recreational cannabis in late 2019, with an approach that allowed for unlimited state-level licensing. This policy enabled swift growth in cannabis production, leading to an oversupply that caused prices to plummet from $494.77 per ounce in February 2020 to $88.15 in May 2023.

This price drop has made legal cannabis competitive with, and often cheaper than, illicit market cannabis, driving more consumers to purchase from legal sources. In May 2023, Michigan's cannabis industry sold over $278 million in recreational cannabis, and the state is on track to exceed $3.2 billion in sales for the year.

While other states like Colorado and Washington have seen declines in cannabis sales, Michigan's market continues to grow. A report from Oregon-based Whitney Economics indicates that over 75% of cannabis sales in Michigan occur within the legal market, compared to only 44% in California. This discrepancy suggests that California's overall cannabis market is worth more than $11.5 billion annually, while Michigan's is around $4 billion.

Despite Michigan's current success, it is unlikely to maintain this position indefinitely. California is already making efforts to address its market issues, including reducing or suspending local marijuana taxes to boost sales and considering regulatory changes. While the future of California's cannabis market remains uncertain, it is expected to stabilize and potentially reclaim its dominance.

For now, Michigan's cannabis industry can celebrate its achievements and focus on sustainable growth to maintain its market position. However, stakeholders should be prepared for changes as other states, especially California, work to resolve their market challenges.

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Free Cannabis Storage Bags Now Available at Monroe County Health Department

Published 3 days ago Safety & Education
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Locking cannabis storage bags are now available for free at the Monroe County Health Department, located at 2353 S. Custer Road. These bags can be picked up from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

These bags are designed to protect children and pets from accidental cannabis ingestion.

"Although medical and recreational cannabis is legal in Michigan, it is important that adults in possession of cannabis take steps to keep the substance locked up in a safe place," the health department emphasized in a recent news release. "Locking bags provide a way to store cannabis safely away from children and pets who may inadvertently ingest a cannabis product, which can put them at risk of serious health effects."

In addition to distributing the storage bags, the Monroe County Health Department will be airing radio and television advertisements over the next few months to promote safe cannabis use and storage. This initiative is funded by the Marijuana Operation and Oversight grant from the Cannabis Regulatory Agency within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

A national study published in "Pediatrics" reported that in 2017, there were slightly over 200 cases of accidental consumption of cannabis edibles by children under six years old in the U.S. By 2021, this number had surged to 3,054, marking a 1,375% increase, according to the Monroe County Health Department.

"The Michigan Poison and Drug Information Center recorded a 75% increase in cannabis toxicity among children aged five and younger from 2020-2022. Meanwhile, cases among children aged four to 13 grew by 60% from 2020-2023," the health department stated.

In cases where an individual experiences physical or mental distress following potential cannabis exposure, it is crucial to call 911 or seek immediate medical attention. The Poison Control Center is available at 800-222-1222. For further information, visit healthymonroecounty.com.