Between the banks of the Kalamazoo River and East Columbia Avenue in Emmett Township sits a 30-acre cannabis farm and dispensary.
Trucenta, a vertically integrated cannabis company based in Troy, touts the site for its ability to go from “seed to store” through indoor and outdoor grow farms and its Breeze retail brand dispensary that offers curbside pickup. A showroom is under construction for a summer opening.
“We’re ramping up for a very busy grow season,” said Meg Kucks, general manager for Breeze Battle Creek. “And we’re just dialing in what the BC consumer needs dispensary-wise and what we can offer that’s a little bit more unique or something different than what we have here on the ‘Marijuana Mile.’”
What Kucks and many locals have dubbed the “Marijuana Mile” or the “Green Mile” is in fact a 3.7-mile stretch of pavement through Battle Creek and Emmett Township that has a combined 13 recreational cannabis retail businesses. Battle Creek has three along West Columbia Avenue — with more on the way — and Emmett Township has 10 along East Columbia Avenue/East Michigan Avenue.
The neighboring municipalities that opted in after recreational cannabis (21-and-over) was legalized in Michigan in 2018 have separate ordinances regulating the industry. But because Emmett Township shares a postal code with Battle Creek, the city effectively has the second-most adult-use retail pot dispensaries in the state — 24 total — according to the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency (formerly Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency) licensing database. Battle Creek has one fewer than Michigan’s cultural cannabis capital, Ann Arbor (25), and Bay City (25), which has the most recreational pot dispensaries per capita.
“Lots of competition,” Kucks said. “I think here in Battle Creek were are the second-most saturated market in Michigan. Definitely, the most competitive, pricing-wise. We’re always price-adjusting with the ebb and flow of the market.”
The state’s cannabis market has been a lucrative one, generating nearly $2 billion annually when combining medical and recreational sales.
More than $1.1 billion in adult-use marijuana sales in Michigan were reported in the 2021 fiscal year. That resulted in Calhoun County receiving $1.1 million in state payments through the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, with Battle Creek also receiving $508,080 and Emmett Township receiving $620,987 of the funds collected through the state’s 10%. Battle Creek also collects $5,000 application fees for any of the five licenses offered by the city, which must be renewed annually.
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According to the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency March report, the state generated $32 million in medical sales and $121.2 million in recreational sales.
After initially offering unlimited adult-use retail licenses, Emmett Township passed an amendment to its marijuana ordinance in 2021, capping the number of provisioning centers at 19, with licenses available for medical and adult-use retail, growing and processing and transportation and safety compliance facilities (testing laboratories).
The city of Battle Creek does not have a cap on the number of retail dispensaries, instead setting up “green zones” in select commercial districts, with limits based on available real estate and buffer zones, such as a state law that businesses that sell cannabis must be at least 1,000 feet from a school or library.
420 on the ‘Marijuana Mile’
Overcast skies and rain didn’t dampen the collective mood along Columbia Avenue and Michigan Avenue in Battle Creek on April 20, the unofficial cannabis holiday.
Customers were seen lining up outside several of the dispensaries that dot the thruway, with cannabis businesses offering discounts on weed products and souvenir giveaways, some with food trucks and live music to mark the occasion.
Among them was Quality Roots in Emmett Township, the flagship location for the cannabis retailer headquartered in Birmingham, with additional locations in Hamtramck and Monroe. The business opened its first retail location in March of 2020 – the same week as the pandemic outbreak. On 420, it offered 25% discounts on products and had a band playing under a pop-up tent near a taco food truck.
“If you can make it in Battle Creek, you can make it in a lot of other areas in Michigan,” said Anthony Martinez, marketing director for Quality Roots. “Big cities will have stores and competition, but what about the areas where people don’t have that amount of traffic and can you sustain the numbers and amount of funds to stay afloat? That’s something to say about retail in general, how are they able to, in post-2020, stay afloat as a brick and mortar retail.”
Andrea Gomez of Saginaw was visiting family in the area and said she was checking out several of the pot shops along the cannabis strip in Battle Creek and Emmett Township on April 20, using a Weedmaps app on her phone as a guide.
“I visited a couple of them to see what’s going on today. Looking for anything interesting,” she said while shopping at Quality Roots. “I have Weedmaps on my phone, whenever I’m traveling. I drive trucks, I’ve tried a lot of different places, but Michigan is the best… I’m hitting them all up. I’ll probably spend $300 when I go into one. Lots of cool stuff. I tell my kids, this is my right now. I can go in and buy and smoke whatever I want. It’s a pretty cool day for me. I was saying happy holiday to everyone.”
Under Michigan law, consumers may only use cannabis in private, such as a personal residence, or at a licensed designated consumption establishment or licensed marijuana temporary event.
Trucenta opened the state’s first cannabis consumption lounge in Hazel Park in March, called Hot Box Social. The company won’t be opening one any time soon at its Emmett Township location, as the township’s marijuana ordinance currently prohibits consumption establishments or temporary marijuana events.
Still, it’s possible for motorists driving on East Columbia Avenue to catch a whiff of cannabis, especially during the summer months. That’s when Trucenta is cultivating some 7,000 plants at its outdoor field to be used as resin or distillate destined for an edible.
“We get some people who say the smell gets a little crazy coming down East Columbia in the summer,” Kucks said. “But it’s just like smelling gasoline if you live next to a gas station or cereal if you live anywhere in Battle Creek. Post cereal and terpenes for breakfast in the summer.”
Contact reporter Nick Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley
CANNABIS IN MICHIGAN
Michigan cities with most active recreational cannabis retail business licenses:
Ann Arbor: 25
Bay City: 25
Battle Creek: 24
Big Rapids: 14
Grand Rapids: 14
Hazel Park: 8
River Rouge: 6
Source: Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency licensing database
Calhoun County’s “Marijuana Mile”
• 3Fifteen Canabis: 2245 W Columbia Ave
• Remedii: 160 E. Columbia Ave.
• Highly Cannaco: 293 E. Columbia Ave.
• Natures Medicines: 703 E. Columbia Ave.
• JARS Battle Creek: 709 E. Columbia Ave.
• Fire Creek: 847 E. Columbia Ave.
• Great Lakes Holistics: 1210 E. Columbia Ave.
• LIV Cannabis: 1240 E. Columbia Ave. (formerly Common Citizen)
• Quality Roots: 1020 E. Michigan Ave.
• Bloom City Club: 1193 E. Michigan Ave.
• Lucid: 1125 E. Michigan Ave.
• Amsterdam: 11280 E. Michigan Ave.
• Breeze: 1770 E. Michigan Ave.