Michigan is looking for an identity. The days of relying on the automotive industry are long gone, and while we remain a strong manufacturing hub, we need to redirect that energy into something new. Cannabis supports manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, and the service industries; it will be the backbone of Michigan’s economic future.
In many ways, cannabis is still in its infancy. Different communities still have regulations on the books against recreational use, though both medical and recreational consumption has already put cannabis on the path to over $1 billion in sales in 2021. Even without access to financial services, cannabis has become a source of tax revenue, employment, and tourism even during a pandemic.
A look at employment should do enough to raise eyebrows. The number of Michiganders employed in the industries doubled in 2020, adding over 9,000 jobs last year alone. That was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and the various shutdowns and layoffs that broke unemployment records. That success in the face of overwhelming adversity has raised eyebrows and support.
Just this month, a group of Michigan banking leaders signed a letter supporting giving Michigan banks protections in serving Michigan cannabis facilities. They voiced their support for the SAFE Banking Act, four versions of which have already passed the House of Representatives in Washington but have yet to reach the Senate floor. Michigan may actually beat Washington in passing similar legislation at the state level. The group noted that many Michigan banks would like to do business to support the industry, but many are waiting until they have federal protections in place.
And it’s an industry worth supporting. Cannabis revenue hit $984 million in 2020, with the first quarter of 2021 already breaking the $360 million mark. The 10% excise tax Michigan places on cannabis products also makes financial sense for everyone, generating over $31 million in 2020. A fund dedicated to handling the revenue distributed over $10 million to 38 different townships just last month, totaling roughly $28,000 per marijuana retailer to local governments.
Cannabis is a net good for Michigan economically and adds the opportunity to build a tourist industry around cannabis production and retail on par with our state’s thriving craft beer industry. We rely heavily on tourism in northern Michigan, especially between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Cannabis retailers provide year-round jobs in processing and retailing in communities that need more opportunities that are reliable, secure, and professional.
We’re excited to be a part of bringing the industry to northern Michigan and even more eager to see where this industry, and this state, is over the next five to ten years.