For some people in the Midwest, the close of September signaled not only the changing of the leaves and an increase in pumpkin-flavored and -scented product availability, but the end of an era for cannabis. Michigan’s caregivers are no longer sourcing dispensaries with product.
“There is a massive shortage on distillate in the state of Michigan, particularly in light of the phaseout of caregivers,” said Alex Leonowicz, COO and general counsel of Redbud Roots, a vertically integrated cannabis company based in Buchanan, Mich. “There have been rumors of distillate pricing reaching as high as [$25,000 to $30,000] for a liter. Likewise, vape cartridge demand has skyrocketed.”
During the March through September phase-out of caregiver sourcing for medical dispensaries, Leonowicz said, dispensaries and customers had already been feeling the effects. (In April, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency cut off caregiver sourcing for adult-use dispensaries.)
Past experiences foreshadowed growing pains that would come with phasing the model out. Redbud, established in 2017, was one of the first several commercial growers and manufacturers to supply cannabis product into the retail market alongside caregivers, Leonowicz said.
“We couldn’t even come close to supplying all the stores,” he said, explaining that the state had previously warned of a phaseout. “So, guys rise up, and they’re like, ‘Wait, I can’t buy it from my caregiver; you [the state] are shutting those guys down. Yet, your new model isn’t ramped up enough. So, you’re leaving people that utilize the plant for truly medicinal purposes without medicine.’ That’s what allowed them to continue to supply into the commercial model for so long.”
Now, in a caregiver-less climate, Redbud is working to help fill the supply void.
“Being forward-thinking, we’ve ramped up both our production capacity and the cultivation,” Leonowicz said. “We added a new grow facility. We also