Michigan dispensaries, benefiting from pandemic-era curbside service, await rules to make it permanent

Mike Fourcher / Grown In

Fluresh’s Grand Rapids dispensary on June 5, 2021. About ten cars were waiting for curbside service deliveries on a Saturday morning.

As cannabis patient and dispensary staff vaccination rates rise and the threat of Covid infection decreases, some dispensaries in Michigan that launched curbside service during the pandemic are wondering what happens now that the masks are coming off. The problem? Many customers are happier with the convenience of curbside service and stores are happier with the higher throughputs of curbside versus in-store service.

“It has changed the delivery method of how cannabis has been dispensed. Instead of in a bud room, it’s consummated in a parking lot,” said Casey Kornoelje, owner of Pharmhouse Wellness in Grand Rapids.

While Michigan has eliminated limitations on the number of customers in a dispensary, Pharmhouse has remained entirely curbside for the protection of its customers and staff. But it’s also hugely popular with his customers because of the convenience. 

“I was in the parking lot a few minutes ago, speaking to customers. There were two people there, and I asked, what do you prefer? They said curbside. They’re the ultimate boss here, they support the shop. It behooves me to listen to what they say,” said Kornoelje.

Nic Hernandez, general manager of the Fluresh dispensary in Grand Rapids, the first to offer adult-use service in town and arguably one of the biggest in the state, says that even though they haven’t moved to in-store service yet, he expects 80 percent of his customers would prefer curbside.

“The number one feedback we’ve gotten is how easy we’ve made this process. They can still look at the products they want. It’s very easy and people like the safety aspect. it’s a quick process, and they don’t have to get out of their cars,” said Hernandez.

Since dispensaries across the country have been offering curbside service, many new dispensaries are beginning to design stores with space set aside for drive-thrus, says Andy Poticha, principal at Cannabis Facility Construction.

“The anticipation is that a lot of these jurisdictions are going to allow for drive-thru, said Poticha. “It makes it easier to go through a drive-thru. It’s not much different than going to a bank or a fast food restaurant. There will be people who come in for a prescription or whatever it is.”

This week Andrew Brisbo, director of the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency, told Grown In that his agency is drafting rules that would allow curbside and drive-thru service. But those draft rules won’t be posted until September and likely not adopted until November 2021.

“The majority of our business being curbside has been beneficial for us,” said Fluresh’s Hernandez. There’s a small minority who will want to come in to see new products. But a larger demographic will know what they want and just hit the curbside.”