In 1965, John Rosevear was arrested for growing marijuana in his backyard. His landlord was furious with him. “He thought I was the lowest thing,” says Rosevear.

So did the police and courts: Rosevear was convicted and served seven months in jail.

Fifty-three years after he got out, Rosevear walked into his former landlord’s office at 321 E. Liberty to check out its newest tenant: newly licensed recreational marijuana retailer Arbors Wellness.

Thanks to a referendum passed in 2018, the sale of recreational marijuana became legal in Michigan on December 1. Hundreds of people lined up that day to be among the first customers at Arbors Wellness, Exclusive Brands on Varsity Dr., and Greenstone Provisions on Ashley.

By mid-month they’d been joined by Skymint on South Industrial and Ann Arbor Healing on Washtenaw, and the lines had finally begun dwindling. When we caught up with Exclusive Brands customer Joel Yoder under the heat lamps at the back of the tent-covered line in Varsity Dr.’s industrial park, he estimated that he had been waiting for only ten minutes.

Yoder, thirty-five, said he’s been smoking since his teen years and until recently held a medical marijuana license. He hails from Newport, near Monroe, but was in Ann Arbor because his township has opted to ban recreational sales.

Yoder says it’s a relief to be able to buy marijuana legally and without fear, but others in line, including a man who said he was from Las Vegas and identified himself as “Christopher Walken … I mean Hawkens,” were wary of going on record. Two men cited concerns about their current and future jobs, and all four women we approached gave nervous headshakes at the mere idea of being interviewed.

Rosevear, who ended up walking out of Arbors Wellness empty-handed because they didn’t have the variety he was looking for, says that after so many years his own fear is hard to shake. “We developed a distrust of the police, and the police began to distrust us,” he says. He says that at his trial, police brought forth a manuscript of a book he was writing on how to grow marijuana as evidence of a “sinister nature.”

Marijuana remains an illicit substance at the federal level, but so far there has been no federal action taken against any of the new recreational marijuana establishments (Michigan had eleven at press time, with more opening as licenses are issued). Yoder thinks the days of raids and banks refusing to work with marijuana-associated businesses are over. “If Trump was going to do anything, he would have by now,” he says.

Arbors Wellness, 321 E. Liberty. (734) 929-2602. Daily 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Ann Arbor Healing, 3792 Washtenaw. (734) 436-4017. Daily 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Facebook: Ann Arbor Healing

Exclusive Brands, 3820 Varsity Dr. (734) 494-0772. Daily 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Greenstone Provisions, 338 S. Ashley. (734) 773-3075. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. noon-8 p.m.

Skymint, 1958 South Industrial. (734) 627-7360. Daily 11 a.m.-7 p.m.