NILES, Mich. – There is still some “releaf” out there for those living in Michigan. It’s 4/20 and the Releaf Center in Niles has already seen dozens of customers!
ABC57 was at the Releaf Center when they first started selling recreationally earlier this year and the line went all the way past the parking lot.
Even with the change to a drive-thru service, cars were lined up as early as 8 a.m. which is 2 hours before the center even opens and the line has not stopped throughout the day.
“We’re just taking it car by car and making sure everybody’s happy and getting it taken care of,” George Pittenturf, a Manager at the Releaf Center said.
Because of coronavirus concerns, they have turned their service into a drive-thru.
With a line of cars around the building all day, they are definitely not seeing a decrease in business due to the coronavirus.
Since they are doing drive-thru sales, accessibility and safety issues are taken care of.
Budtenders now go up to your car, give you a menu and take your order.
They then go inside the building and grab the variety of marijuana products in stock and go back outside to the customer, just like a drive-in diner.
The center has had nonstop traffic since they started selling recreationally and Monday is no different, except for some added precautions.
“Right now we’re doing 5 to 7 at a time. We’ll take their orders, we’ll have them pull up and bring it right out to them, try to get as many cars out as possible,” Pittenturf said. “They love it. They don’t need to get out of their car. Keep us from social distancing and keeps large groups from gathering. It makes people feel a little bit safer and it works for us because it allows the line to get down quicker.”
While many industries are struggling, the marijuana industry isn’t slowing down and in some cases is ramping up.
4/20 is one of the biggest days in weed sales out of the whole year, it’s like Black Friday but for marijuana.
According to Forbes, Americans bought $90 million worth of cannabis for 4/20 last year.
With more people at home, sales at the Releaf center look like they are definitely not dropping any time soon.
“I’ve seen longer so it’s not too bad for me. We got here at like 10:30 so probably like about 2 hours,” customers Brody Keys and Jayce Newman said as they waited in line to purchase some cannabis. “Everything that we’ve ever done is like really complicated and it’s not even as smooth as this. This is super nice. Just come get your stuff, go home get high.”
The drive-thru process is pretty easy. Folks can just drive up, a budtender will bring a menu and will take the order, go inside and then come back with the product and the customer never has to leave the car.
The coronavirus pandemic has been favorable towards the cannabis industry in just the last couple of months.
Pittenturf said the coronavirus is not affecting sales however it is impacting other parts of the business.
“The only thing that it kind of stops is basically production. It’s not from us right now. We’re still growing, still harvesting. Other products that they’re getting shipped in, some of them are kind of getting scarce but we’re stocked and ready to go,” he said.
Pittenturf said the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the production of products like edibles, cartridges, and wax but not things like flower. But right now, he says they are all stocked up.
Of course, safety is still of the utmost importance, everyone is sitting and staying in their cars throughout this whole process and staff are handing out disposable menu’s.
“The customer has very little touching of anything that we use. We hand them a paper menu that they keep. We don’t circulate menus obviously. It could be a novelty for some, their first time. But for others, we don’t want to get the menu back because what’s happening right now,” he said.
Customers just have to drive up and a budtender who is equipped with a mask and gloves comes and gives them a paper menu to look over and keep.
Grabs their order from inside and then the customer is sent on their way.
Now many customers are choosing to wear their own masks as an added safety measure.
Either way, with lines of cars continuing to roll through, you can see coronavirus fears are not affecting this business.