The Crusader Newspaper Group

Metro Detroit gets first weed dispensary–and its Black-owned

Crusader Staff Report

The cash registers are ringing and the owner of the new weed dispensary in Metro Detroit is seeing green in more ways than one.

Today, seven weeks after recreational marijuana became the law of the land in Michigan, River Rouge, a small city just outside the Motor City, is stirring the pot.

Vetra Stephens
Vetra Stephens, CEO of RPTN group and operating manager of the cultivating and provisioning center, has her portrait taken at First Quality Medz, the first recreational marijuana dispensary in Wayne county in River Rouge, Mich. on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, seven weeks after legal sales began. (Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell, Detroit Free Press)

Just nine miles west of Detroit near the Detroit River is First Quality Medz in River Rouge. The recreational marijuana dispensary is the first of its kind in River Rouge and Metro Detroit. And it is Black-owned. The owner, Vetra Stephens, opened her doors this week on January 20.

“We want to grow the city,” Stephens told the Detroit television station WXYZ. “We want to be able to help with the taxes, the roads and the things recreational marijuana does for cities like this.”

So far, sales are smoking hot. Her shop is the fifth recreational marijuana dispensary to open up since Michigan legalized weed in 2019. Marijuana sales began December 1, 2019.

Since then, crowds have flooded more than a dozen weed dispensaries that have opened throughout the state, buying up $10 million worth of the green stuff.

Stephens’ dispensary sells cannabis flowers, edibles, tinctures, and vape pens. 1st Quality Medz, which has served medical marijuana cardholders for more than a year, was one of two Wayne County dispensaries to receive a state license this month to sell recreational marijuana. The other, Herbology in River Rouge, is expected to open in the next couple of weeks. Another license was granted to Greenhouse in Walled Lake, which is 33 miles northwest of Detroit. Both dispensaries are waiting to open amid a persistent shortage of marijuana products in the state.

Stephens’ business is up and humming in Wayne County. She is poised to rake in big bucks as the only weed dispensary in Metro Detroit. Her business is just 16 minutes by car from the state’s largest city. She is likely to benefit from a temporary moratorium that Detroit City Council passed to prevent new weed dispensaries from opening until a social equity plan is developed to allow more minorities and Blacks to own a stake in the growing marijuana business.

City leaders want the number of weed dispensaries to reflect the predominately Black city.

“It’s clear that Detroit’s medical industry is overwhelmingly owned and operated by individuals who don’t live in the city and take their dollars back to their communities,” Councilman James Tate said in a statement.

A similar effort to delay marijuana sales to July 1 to boost Black and Latino dispensary owners failed when six Black aldermen switched their vote to defeat the measure in December. When weed sales began January 1 in Chicago, none of the dispensaries were owned by Blacks or Latinos.

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