Michigan city uses marijuana tax money for playground, sidewalk improvements

BIG RAPIDS – Big Rapids officials have started improvements throughout the city with the first tax payments from marijuana sales made last year.

This week, experts said Michigan’s market for cannabis has exploded since legalization, totaling $3.2 billion in 2020. The Anderson Economic Group revealed its findings to a recent study.

The study found Michigan is home to nearly 400 licensed medical provisioning centers and 300 licensed adult-use retail stores. Out of those, Big Rapids houses 10 marijuana provisioning centers. The study also showed one in five Michiganders reported using cannabis in the past year, resulting in nearly $1 billion of legal sales reported in 2020.

Earlier this year, the state’s Department of Treasury distributed nearly $10 million to over 100 municipalities and counties as a part of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.

In March, Big Rapids received $84,003, in total, for three licensed retail stores within its jurisdiction.

In 2020, Big Rapids saw three marijuana shops – Lume Cannabis Co., Premiere Provisions, and KKind – open doors prior to the Sept. 30 cutoff date to be considered for state funding.

The money has been used to add sidewalks, parking lots, and a playground structure adjacent to the Big Rapids Community Library, according to Big Rapids city treasurer Aaron Kuhn.

“The timing just worked out,” Kuhn said. “We can use the additional funding to vulture the funding for our library project and the general operations of the city.”

The park will promote different early literacy elements to create an environment that will prepare children for successful reading, Kuhn said. The project should be completed by the end of the summer, he added.

Big Rapids is still the lone municipality in Mecosta County with marijuana shops open and operating.

Since December 2020, the following businesses have opened: Lake Life Farms; Dunegrass, The Wellflower; Mother Nurtures; Great Lakes Provision Center; Skymint; and RAIR.

The regulated cannabis industry generated $169 million in tax and fee revenues in 2020. However, some 70% of transactions in Michigan’s cannabis industry occur outside of retail stores.

Gena Harris