The parking lots at southern Michigan cannabis dispensaries are often full. But while heavy traffic is no surprise at pot shops in any newly-legal state, the cars stopped at Michigan’s adult-use dispensaries are starting to look a little different — especially when it comes to the license plates.
According to a new report from Indianapolis local NBC affiliate WTHR, swaths of Indiana residents are driving long distances to get their hands on legal weed in the Wolverine State. On one recent business day, reporters from WTHR said that 19 of the 26 cars parked at a Niles, Michigan dispensary had Indiana license plates.
“Indiana is 100 percent our number one out-of-state customer… and they cross the border with it,” Summer Ransom, president of SkyMint, which currently operates six marijuana retail stores in Michigan, told WTHR. “I mean, who doesn't want to come and buy legal — legal — marijuana?”
Like most of America’s non-coastal states, Indiana has long rejected cannabis reform efforts, despite recent polls showing increasing legalization support amongst residents. Currently, Indiana does not have a functioning recreational or medicinal program, with harsh penalties across the state for even minor pot possession. Even in metropolitan areas, where prosecutors have pushed back against cannabis criminalization, lawmakers have come forward to “force” cannabis prosecutions. But no matter how much their local government goes against them, Indiana cannabis users say that Michigan legalization has offered at least somewhat of a respite from persecution.
“I’m buying it for recreational purposes, but [benefit from] its medicinal qualities,” Jeff, a resident of LaPorte County, Indiana, told WTHR. “Anywhere from pain management to general anxiety, it helps me a lot. It’s worth the drive.”
But because he planned to drive his Michigan bud back to Indiana and light up “in the safety of my own home,” Jeff asked to remain anonymous, fearing that his candid interview could still lead to trouble with police in Indiana.
And as America’s legal weed landscape continues to grow one state at a time, the Indiana interloper technique has not been isolated to the Hoosier State. Residents of Idaho often cross into Oregon and Washington to get their weed, and cannabis seizures at the Canadian border have spiked significantly since the Great White North went legal.
Unfortunately, with no legalization effort close to complete in Indiana, local cannabis users will continue breaking the law for the foreseeable future — whether that means supporting the local black market, or taking more frequent road trips to neighboring dispensaries in Michigan.
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