Why Mt. Pleasant is central Michigan's cannabis capital: Growth, revenue, and community benefits

Mt. Pleasant seems to be a mecca for cannabis retailers. With 11 dispensaries opened in 2023 and four more in the works, cannabis sales are booming in the area. 

What makes central Michigan a sweet spot for marijuana sellers? And how is the town impacted by the influx of dispensaries? We talked to some of the folks involved in the marijuana industry and the city of Mt. Pleasant to find out. 

Courtesy Stash Ventures
“From job creation and wrap-around employment opportunities, to the revitalization of vacant buildings and new construction, and the addition to the city’s budget from shared revenue, the growth has positive impacts in the community,” says aid Aaron Desentz, Mt. Pleasant city manager. 

The arrival of these dispensaries has generated significant economic benefits for the city. It has also led to the revitalization of physical spaces, as new dispensaries are either renovating existing buildings or constructing modern facilities, thus enhancing the town's aesthetics and infrastructure. 

Courtesy Stash VenturesMatt Roman
“We take traditional lower-use existing buildings and turn them into state-of-the-art facilities,” says Matt Roman, director of government relations for Stash Ventures, the vertically integrated marijuana company headquartered in Mt. Pleasant. Stash Ventures operates 17 retail dispensaries in the state, including the local Timber Cannabis Co., located at 212 W. Pickard Street.

“Once people see we’re not fly-by-night, dingy, seedy places, they see how nice, safe and secure our facilities are and they’re impressed,” Roman says. 

“We’re not coming into communities asking for incentives or tax abatements,” adds Roman.

Courtesy Lume
Lume entered the Mt. Pleasant market with the construction of two new buildings in 2021; one is located at 907 E. Broomfield and the other at 1207 North Mission. Both locations were honored with community beautification awards from the Mt. Pleasant Planning Commission for investing in the city.

In addition to physical improvements, the City of Mt. Pleasant added nearly $300,000 to its budget in 2023 from the state’s tax revenue share for the five dispensaries operating at the time. 

Courtesy Stash Ventures
Michigan communities opting-in to adult-use marijuana sales received a share of more than $87 million in revenue for 2023 as part of the Marihuana Regulation Fund. According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, each eligible municipality and county received more than $59,000 for every licensed retail store and microbusiness located within its jurisdiction. The $87 million in shared revenue is up from the $59.5 million distributed for the 2022 fiscal year

Courtesy Stash Ventures
In his three years as Mt. Pleasant’s city manager, Desentz has watched the cannabis industry in Michigan explode. Revenue for marijuana sales has skyrocketed from $10 million in 2020 to $87 million last year, he pointed out. 

Desentz expects the city’s share of the revenue to increase significantly, garnering revenue shares from potentially 15 retail dispensaries this year. 

The Mt. Pleasant City Commission removed license caps for marijuana businesses in May 2022. This eliminated limits on the number of medical marihuana facilities and recreational establishments eligible for licensing by the city, thus opening opportunities for the rapid growth of dispensaries in town.

“After watching the first few retailers open for a year, the City Commission felt comfortable with the sustainability of the market,” said Desentz. “And it eliminated those suing the city over caps.”

Photo Credit: Kathy Backus / Epicenter Mt. PleasantRoger Ward, Luminarie and Laurie Ralston, Area Manager
With two locations in Mt. Pleasant, Lume was looking to grow its footprint in the central Michigan area. Among the first to be granted licenses in the city, the company initially thought it was entering a small market as one of only three licenses allowed at the time. Although the market has expanded since Lume’s arrival, it’s still a good area for business, says Lume area manager, Laurie Ralston. 

“The market is definitely different than when we got here,” said Ralston. “It’s still a strong market and we’re still seeing new customers daily. With the university and the casino, both stores continue to do well. Our biggest competitor is our other store up the street.” 

Courtesy Stash Ventures
Adding to the local employment base, offering full-time jobs with benefits has benefited the community. Stash Ventures, with its facility housing a cultivation and processing center, retail store and corporate headquarters, employs nearly 70 people—most full-time and hired locally. Lume has 25 employees between its two stores. 

Both companies are committed to giving back to the community and participating in local philanthropic efforts. Lume seeks to be involved in events catering to its 21 years old and above target market, such as the annual Polar Plunge benefiting Special Olympics, golf outings to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity, and helping with the city garden program. 

“We are members of the community. We live and work here and are always looking for ways to get involved and give back,” says Ralston. 

Courtesy Stash Ventures
Stash Ventures believes in impacting the communities where it operates through an established philanthropic arm called Higher Hopes. The organization’s mission states “we believe in community, and through our business entities at Stash Ventures, we have higher hopes of being more than a cannabis business through our volunteerism, donations, and unique events.  We share our profits and time with our communities to further grow, creating a vibrant place to live.”

Since 2020, Stash has donated over $180,000 to local nonprofit organizations to impact local communities. Each quarter, employees vote on specific causes to support, allowing them to  positively impact where it matters most… “in our customers and employees' hometown,” said Brelynn Woodrick, philanthropy assistant for Higher Hopes. 

Courtesy Stash VenturesAs the number of cannabis retailers in Mt. Pleasant increases, it begs the question of oversaturation. As for the added competition, Roman is not concerned. Some consolidation is expected and product prices have been impacted. Stash Ventures recently purchased 11 stores from Cloud Cannabis, increasing its store count to 17 retailers.  

Lume maintains its status as the largest single state operator with 38 locations. With its clean state-of-the-art facilities and knowledgeable staff trained to educate customers and provide high-quality products, Ralston says they’re in it for the long haul.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.