5 Cities in Michigan that Seek Marijuana Alternatives

By Melena Gurganus
Elsa Olofsson, Unsplash

Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008, but some people have decided to try a non-psychoactive option before signing up for their medical marijuana (MMJ) card.

That’s where CBD comes into play. CBD does not produce the high of marijuana, making it an appealing alternative.

To see where in Michigan people were most interested in CBD, we tracked Google Trends data from the past year around key terms. This allowed us to determine where in Michigan people were searching for information on the benefits of CBD.

In our research, the five cities most interested in CBD are:

  1. Grand Rapids
  2. Detroit
  3. Flint
  4. Traverse City
  5. Lansing
  1. Grand Rapids
    Also pulling data from Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, the Grand Rapids metro area had the highest overall CBD interest, as they were the region searching the most for terms like “buy CBD” and “cannabidiol,” and second overall in search traffic for “CBD oil benefits.” On top of these findings, Grand Rapids, Michigan has several stores that feature CBD brands and their products.
  2. Detroit
    As the most populated city in Michigan, it comes as no surprise that Detroit produces a heavy search volume for CBD interest, particularly pertaining to the possible benefits CBD may offer. Like Grand Rapids, we also found that Detroit is home to a few CBD-friendly shops and dispensaries, putting the city in a high ranking position for readily available marijuana alternatives like CBD.
  3. Flint
    Incorporating data results from Bay City and Saginaw in conjunction with Flint, this region garnered the highest search interest for both “CBD oil” and “hemp oil.” This area was also repeatedly seen with high volume numbers across multiple different CBD-related queries.
  4. Traverse City
    People living in Traverse City seem to be intrigued by CBD and its possible wellness advantages, as it came in third and fourth respectively among search volume for “CBD oil” and “CBD oil benefits.” However, there was no available data for searches related to buying CBD, suggesting that Traverse City residents are less interested in purchasing the cannabis extract.
  5. Lansing
    The state capital of Michigan, Lansing, was steadily seen in the top five results for search volume among terms like “CBD oil,” “hemp oil,” and “buy CBD.” From this data, we gathered that people that reside in Lansing are interested in CBD, but perhaps not as much as other areas.

Why It Matters

With the 2018 election, we saw changes made throughout the country in response to cannabis and its extracts. Michigan had perhaps the most notable legislative change, as it became the tenth state in the U.S. to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. With this change, we started to wonder how the availability of THC-heavy products (or awareness around these products) may affect CBD interest or consumption. Remedy Review researched the most prevalent CBD keywords on Google Trends, and from this data we discerned that CBD interest has slowly and steadily increased in the past year across Michigan, with peak interest intersecting with legislative changes.

CBD was Previously “Banned”

Although Michigan residents can now partake in cannabis consumption, the state’s previous stance on CBD was much stricter than most other states. In an advisory bulletin released on May 11, 2018 by Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) stated that any derivative of cannabis sativa—including CBD—would be treated as a form of medical marijuana. Some said LARA did not have much ground to stand on when it came to enforcing this new regulation. In a review of LARA’s statement, Scott F. Roberts Law noted that it would be highly unlikely for individuals to be prosecuted for possessing CBD products. Additionally, the essay hypothesized reasons that LARA would even bother making a rule they would have trouble enforcing.

Essentially, the advisory notice only affected individuals that were licensees of LARA, in which LARA could ban CBD from any establishment that wasn’t licensed under the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) or the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA). This meant that CBD was intended to be removed from store shelves, making it less readily available to Michigan residents. In light of people choosing to use CBD as an alternative to marijuana, Scott F. Robert’s Law firm also speculated that the ban may have been intended to encourage people to apply for MMJ cards, especially if CBD oil would only be available from licensed dispensaries.

How CBD Search Interest was Affected

Regardless of its intention, LARA’s statement created confusion around the legality of CBD, which was also reflected in Google Trends search data. On May 12th, one day after LARA’s statement was released, Michigan residents reached a peak in search volume for the terms “CBD” and “CBD oil.” Flint and its surrounding cities lead these searches in traffic volume, followed by Grand Rapids and Lansing areas of Michigan. Another popular search Google encountered was “is CBD legal,” which greatly increased in volume following LARA’s announcement. These results may reflect Michigan residents’ curiosity or concern at the news that CBD would be categorized as medical marijuana, even when derived from industrial hemp strains.

Michigan residents searching for “CBD” during the month of May 2018 (Google Trends Data)

Michigan residents searching for “CBD oil” during the month of May 2018 (Google Trends Data)

Michigan residents searching for “is CBD legal” during the month of May 2018 (Google Trends Data)

Legalized Marijuana—Will It Alter CBD Interest?

With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use, one might assume that residents might lose interest in CBD given the availability of another cannabis sativa strain. However, there appeared to be more search traffic volume and overall interest in the benefits of CBD oil, and where to buy it, once marijuana was approved for recreational use in Michigan. The legalization of marijuana may have given residents more confidence in purchasing CBD knowing they wouldn’t be reprimanded or scrutinized for using it. These data findings might also represent an appeal among consumers to the non-psychoactive properties of CBD products in comparison to the high that THC produces. Within the past 12 months, search traffic reached high volumes for terms like “CBD oil,” “CBD for pain,” and “hemp oil” during the week of elections. Looking more closely at the data, we were able to see that Michigan residents searched the most for these terms in the days following the state’s legalization of marijuana.

Michigan residents searching for "CBD oil" in the past 12 months (Google Trends Data)

Michigan residents searching for "hemp oil" in the past 12 months (Google Trends Data)

Michigan residents searching for "buy CBD" in the past 30 days (Google Trends Data)


The search terms that held the most weight for our city rankings were “CBD oil,” “buy CBD,” “hemp oil,” and “CBD oil benefits.” In addition, other terms like “CBD,” “cannabidiol,” “CBD for pain,” and “CBD vape” were also researched in an effort to gain a broader understanding of what aspects of CBD were most appealing to Michigan residents. The subsequent findings of this data analysis represent the impact of legislature on the stigmas surrounding cannabis, and whether or not these decisions affect people’s overall interest in CBD.

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