Eaton County's First Recreational Cannabis Shop Sees Strong Start

June 26th, 2024 Business & Industry
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Eaton County’s first recreational cannabis store, Harbor Farmz Provisioning Center, has experienced a successful start, welcoming thousands of customers since its June 10th opening. Located at 122 Lansing Road, the store has drawn patrons from Charlotte, Olivet, and Bellevue, according to Assistant General Manager Alyssa Murray.

"We've had a very positive response from lots of people," Murray stated, highlighting the broad community interest.

While neighboring areas like Lansing and Ingham County had already embraced recreational cannabis sales and benefited from the accompanying tax revenue, Eaton County had not yet entered the market. This new venture brings anticipated financial benefits to local communities through state revenue.

During the 2023 fiscal year, Michigan collected $87 million in cannabis tax revenue, a significant increase from the $59.5 million collected in 2022. The revenue is distributed among 269 cities, villages, and townships allowing cannabis sales, with each eligible municipality and county receiving $59,000 per licensed retail store and microbusiness.

For example, Lansing, which has 21 cannabis dispensaries, received $1.4 million in tax revenue. Charlotte is also set to gain financially, charging a $5,000 application fee and a $5,000 annual renewal fee for each license. The city allows retail, safety facility, transport, and processing licenses, but excludes grow facility, microbusiness, consumption, or temporary licenses. All cannabis facilities in Charlotte are confined to three zoning areas: Lansing Road near Interstate 69, Clinton Trail near Meijer, and around Lipsey Drive and Packard Highway.

Harbor Farmz is the first of several expected cannabis businesses in Eaton County, with Hollywood Jacks and High Society Cannabis also in the process of setting up shop in Charlotte. According to City Clerk Mary LaRocque, these businesses are at various stages of the application process.

Harbor Farmz Budtender

Charlotte’s City Council approved the recreational cannabis ordinance on August 21st, 2023, by a 6-1 vote. The ordinance, which took effect in October, does not cap the number of dispensaries. Councilman Mike Duweck, who initially had reservations about recreational cannabis, supported the ordinance after recognizing potential benefits like property redevelopment, tax revenue, and job creation.

The Harbor Farmz site was previously a veterinary hospital, while Hollywood Jacks plans to repurpose a former Mexican restaurant. Duweck emphasized that the early entrants into the market are likely to succeed. Conversely, Councilman Anthony Rodriguez, the sole opposing vote, had concerns about crime statistics and dispensary locations but has since acknowledged the benefits and community support for the store.

Kathy McCoy, a Charlotte resident, expressed support for the new dispensaries, appreciating the repurposing of unused properties. "What's the harm?" she remarked.

Harbor Farmz, established in 2017, opened its first location in Three Rivers in 2022, where it was also the pioneering dispensary. For the Charlotte store, the company prioritized hiring local residents. Murray, a long-time Charlotte resident, emphasized the importance of a positive first impression. "It's an experience they're buying into," she said.

Customer Floyd Harkness, who uses cannabis for chronic pain, praised the knowledgeable service he received at Harbor Farmz. "They are knowledgeable. I was impressed with their knowledge the other day when I came, so that’s what brought me back," he commented.

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