In The News- 2015

July 12, 2016

Read some of Rick’s more quotable media statements from the year 2015

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Michigan medical marijuana rules, fees set to change despite concerns

January 6 2015

Rick Thompson, a medical marijuana activist and and former editor of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, said it was “disingenuous” for LARA to move forward with the rules without making any changes following the JCAR hearing.

“I think anytime you make a change to administrative rules where you ignore the input provided by the public and lawmakers, there’s a concern,” he said. “None of those concerns were heard. All of the issues raised remain in the new policy, and patients are not benefiting.”

The rules would allow Michigan to become the first state in the country to adopt a mandatory online registration process, according to Thompson.



Michigan: Debate heats up over marijuana legalization proposals

Michigan: Debate heats up over marijuana legalization proposals


Marijuana May Land on Ballot in 2016

Michigan Radio \March 14, 2015

Michigan voters may decide in 2016 if they want to legalize marijuana.

Organizers hope to start a petition drive this summer to put the issue on the ballot.

Rick Thompson is with the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative Committee.

He says the path has been laid by decriminalization votes in nearly two dozen Michigan cities.

“I think they have been incredibly valuable,” says Thompson, “And we’ll build on those successes with this organization and our new effort.”



Hazel Park Honors Tommy Chong with Key to City (video)

Hazel Park Honors Tommy Chong with Key to City (video)

April 3, 2015

Rick Thompson, publisher of Compassion Chronicles, is part of the movement for legalization. He and other heavy-hitters came to the Hazel Park event, which is the warm up for Hash Bash in Ann Arbor over the weekend. “The smell of freedom is in the air in Hazel Park,” Thompson said. “Any time we can get a famous celebrity to Michigan it’s a big deal. But to get a pro-marijuana celebrity to come to Michigan it’s a really big deal.”


Flint police crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries

This round of crackdowns have raised concerns from advocates like Rick Thompson who serves on the board of Michigan’s chapter of NORML, and says it isn’t unusual to have paperwork delays on both sides.

“The city hasn’t been such a good actor either it seems like this is more a case of paperwork not pot.,” said Thompson.

April 8

Higher Ground: Notes from the Hash Bash

When I got there, a bunch of folks were just standing around in the lobby chatting. There were a fair number of familiar faces in the crowd: Matt Abel, director of Michigan NORML, as well as Charmie Gholson from Michigan Moms United. Jamie Lowell from 3rd Coast Compassion Center, Heidi Parikh from Michigan Compassion, Rick Thompson of the Compassion Chronicles, and Harry Cayce from People’s Choice dispensary — it was a crowd of marijuana folks all around. I met the owners of the Om of Medicine, and a few others, whose names I neglected to remember or write down.

Marijuana legalization group holding Flint town hall meeting on 2016 ballot langauge

April 12 2015

“We want to get public input so we can create the best law possible for the people of Michigan,” said Thompson, of the town hall meetings, with Powers stating “Public input has already led us to include protections for pediatric medical patients, hemp farmers and others.”

Other board members set to attend the town hall meeting include Rick Thompson, journalist and board member of Michigan NORML and Americans For Safe Access-Michigan; and Cary Justice, leader of the Safer Saginaw and Safer Montrose petition drives.


Flint marijuana meeting sparks discussion on legalization

April 19, 2015

Part of the day included an hour-long town hall meeting discussion lead by MI Legalize board members Rick Thompson, Nicholas Zettell and Matthew Abel.

Thompson is an editor at the Compassion Chronicles, Zettell is the lead organizer for the Ann Arbor Hash Bash and Abel is a cannabis counsel attorney.

MI Legalize, formed in 2015, is a committee pushing for the legalization of marijuana. They hope to get the proposal on the ballot by 2016.

The first official town hall meeting for the group, according to Thompson, centered on the language of the current petition that seeks full legalization of marijuana for recreational use, as well as legalization of hemp and other forms of marijuana.

“We are making sure everyone has time to talk to the committee and feels comfortable with the language,” he said. “Then we are going to act where legislation has failed.”

The group needs 260,000 signatures on the petition in order to get the proposal on the ballot for 2016, Thompson said. In reality, he added they will need around 350,000 signatures, in order to account for duplication and other discrepancies.


Recreational marijuana proposal in the works in Michigan

April 9, 2015

Rick Thompson serves on the board of Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform initiative committee and has a number of concerns.

“If you put a taxation level too high on the recreational marijuana people will just go to the less expensive option which is the same way they have been getting it all along,” Thompson said.

Those with a felony will not be able to grow it.

And while the state can decide at what rate marijuana will be taxed the proceeds would go toward public safety, education and public health. But Thompson said those constraints don’t benefit everyone.

“When you have a legalization proposal that is designed primarily to generate revenue and not necessarily designed for the functionality of the common citizen you are going to have problems.


Talking about marijuana at a family restaurant

For almost five years and 200-plus episodes, the weekly Planet Green Trees podcast has drawn an interested audience of listeners online. For this special evening, in front of an atypically typical audience, instead of delving into the intricacies of law and policy, as the show usually does, attendees can expect more of a “Medical Marijuana 101” format, hosted by Michael Komorn, a leading medical marijuana attorney in Southfield and the president of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, Jamie Lowell, blogger and co-founder of Ypsilanti’s 3rd Coast Compassion Center, and Rick Thompson, head blogger at the Compassion Chronicles.

See the full speaker list for Saturday’s Hash Bash rally in Ann Arbor

April 3, 2015

  • While many will come to hear comedian Tommy Chong, there will be short speeches from many speakers at Saturday’s 44th annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor.The nation’s longest-running marijuana legalization rally runs from noon to 2 p.m. on the University of Michigan Diag, followed by the Monroe Street Fair.Below is the full lineup for the rally:
  • Rick Thompson, The Compassion Chronicles


For almost five years and 200-plus episodes, the weekly Planet Green Trees podcast has drawn an interested audience of listeners online. For this special evening, in front of an atypically typical audience, instead of delving into the intricacies of law and policy, as the show usually does, attendees can expect more of a “Medical Marijuana 101” format, hosted by Michael Komorn, a leading medical marijuana attorney in Southfield and the president of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, Jamie Lowell, blogger and co-founder of Ypsilanti’s 3rd Coast Compassion Center, and Rick Thompson, head blogger at the Compassion Chronicles.



Flint marijuana dispensaries get back in business after crackdown

May 15, 2015

Although 14 marijuana dispensaries have been through the city’s site plan review process, all were ordered to shut down by the city late last month after officials claimed they had problems ranging from overdue taxes to building and fire code violations.

“This is a (day for) celebrating the end of a long process,” said Rick Thompson, a member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “The main thing is, the city is to be congratulated for doing this.

“The industry is willing to leap through these hoops as long as we know” what they are, Thompson said.


3 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Cleared To Do Business In Flint

3 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Cleared To Do Business In Flint

May 16, 2015

Authorities started examining dispensaries after the city adopted a marijuana ordinance last year. That ended a three-year moratorium on the businesses.

Rick Thompson, a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ Michigan chapter, said “the industry is willing to leap through hoops” imposed by the government.



Pro marijuana legalization group hosting town hall meeting in Grand Rapids

Attendees will have an opportunity to ask MI Legalize board members about the initiative, volunteer to collect signatures or participate in other campaign-related activities, or donate money to the campaign, according to a blog post by Rick Thompson, a board member of the MI Legalize Campaign.



Marijuana legalization campaign coming to Saginaw for town hall meeting

July 17, 2015

“Saginaw has been on the forefront of marijuana law reform in Michigan,” Thompson said. “City residents have already voted in favor of a local legal program. Regional residents will get their chance to do the same in 2016.”…

MI Legalize board members Rick Thompson and Jamie Lowell and Thetford Township Trustee Eric Gunnels all plan to attend the event in Saginaw Saturday.

“How should we legalize cannabis in Michigan?” Lowell asked. “Our question and answer session will help people understand the MI Legalize proposal and learn that it’s not something to be frightened over.”

July 24

Week in Review: Michigan dispensary raids, Ohio legalization roadblock + mixed MMJ bag in Florida

There have been a series of ongoing raids and legal actionsagainst Michigan MMJ dispensaries by law enforcement this year, and longtime activist/industry observer Rick Thompson thinks he knows who’s behind it: the Michigan Sheriffs Association.

“It’s the result of one particular organization trying to reassert control over what they thought was an out-of-control industry in the state,” said Thompson, editor of the Compassion Chronicles, a website that focuses on marijuana-related developments in the Midwest.

The association drew on its members’ strength in December to kill a pair of bills that would have empowered Michigan’s medical cannabis industry, and since then the sheriffs have been doing all they can to chip away at the industry’s growth, he said.

“Since (December), we’ve seen a ramp-up of attacks in northern Michigan and in rural areas,” Thompson said. “In the population centers, like Detroit and Flint and Ann Arbor, we’re not seeing that trend. The sheriffs are far more powerful in the rural communities than in the urban areas, and that’s where we see the muscle being flexed.”

Thompson also noted that several communities, such as Ann Arbor and Flint, have adopted licensing for dispensaries “even without a state law mandating that they do so.” In those towns, he said, dispensaries are basically on stable ground.

But, Thompson said, he thinks the raids will probably taper off – if they haven’t already come to an end – because of negative responses from the media, residents and advocates.

“As long as the outrage continues, as long as the protests continue, sheriffs have a reason to stop raiding MMJ centers,” Thompson said. “If the protests back off… the sheriffs will become more aggressive.”



‘Seed-to-sale’ marijuana tracking system proposed for Michigan medical dispensaries

August 19, 2015

Medical marijuana activists, who were not able to testify in committee on Tuesday due to time constraints, raised other concerns after the hearing.

“It seems excessive,” said Rick Thompson, former editor of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine. “We don’t really need the state to know whether we’re producing sativa or indica, or exactly how many clones we’ve produced.”


High Times: Panel Discussion

August 22, 2015

“The Campaign to Legalize Cannabis in Michigan 2016”
Featuring board members of Michigan Legalize
Rick Thompson (moderator), The Compassion Chronicles, Midwest Multi Media Management
Debra Young, Detroit Compassion Center
Josey Scoggin, Sons and Daughters United
Josh Covert, attorney
Tom Lavigne, attorney
Matt Abel, attorney
David Rudoi, attorney



Marijuana dispensary case going to trial

Rick Thompson, MI Legalize board member and protester from Flint, said he believed the attorney general should have been respectful of the original decision from the lower courts instead of appealing the ruling last year. Thompson said it is a waste of resources to pursue a case for so long.


Marijuana conference coming to Flint-area hotel

September 22 2015

“This is about businesses who can talk about concepts without having to trade cannabis to do it,” said organizer Rick Thompson…

“I chose Flint because they deserve the revenue,” Thompson said in a statement. “Flint passed pro-cannabis business policies earlier this year and issued licenses to medical marijuana distribution facilities. Flint has embraced the industry in a way few Michigan cities have, and they deserve all the economic prosperity we can give them in return.”


September 30

Marijuana dispensary case going to trial

Rick Thompson, MI Legalize board member and protester from Flint, said he believed the attorney general should have been respectful of the original decision from the lower courts instead of appealing the ruling last year. Thompson said it is a waste of resources to pursue a case for so long.


October 26 2015

Why Detroit’s medical marijuana ordinance gets it wrong

According to Rick Thompson’s Weed Blog, unfair provisions in the ordinance include the requirement that medical marijuana facilities be 2,000 feet from liquor stores, other special-use properties, and other dispensaries, without recourse to requesting a variance. The requirement for liquor stores is 500 feet, with the option of requesting a variance. Or, as Thompson says:

A 2,000-foot barrier from other dispensaries is outrageous; one medical marijuana distribution center in the space where 9 liquor stores are located (at 500 feet apart)? How is this fair, or reasonable, or a proper way to administer your city? Answer: it’s not. It is not intended to be fair, nor is it intended to be reasonable, nor is it intended to be justifiable to anyone other than Councilman Tate…

As blogger Thompson points out, in the narrowest interpretation of the law, the ordinance “would allow a single caregiver to dispense medical marijuana to their five allotted patients under state law, and that is it.”

“The current business model used by dispensaries in cities all across the state, including Detroit, is to provide medical marijuana to anyone who possesses a medical marijuana patient or caregiver card,” Thompson says. Restricting dispensaries to one caregiver and his approved patients simply isn’t economically viable. Thompson says: “That is a business model that would not sustain any storefront operation, and the cities who license these distribution businesses know it.”


October 1

But such incidents show more need, not less, to legalize commercial distribution of medical marijuana, said Rick Thompson, editor of an on-line magazine at and former eight-year resident of Warren, now caring for his elderly parents in Flint Township.
BHO, or butane honey oil, is “absolutely something that patients use. It’s essential to pediatric cases. Obviously, sick children don’t smoke marijuana,” and BHO allows parents to mix an effective dose into food, Thompson said.

“There have been some explosions, yes. With any new product and any emergent technology, there is a period of experimentation. But this is exactly why Mayor Fouts and his police force have been so wrong in preventing distribution centers from being in Warren. If people can’t get their medicine through commercial sources, patients are forced to manufacture it themselves. I can tell you, the guys on 8 Mile and Mound road selling marijuana (illegally) don’t have this (BHO),” he said.


October 18

But Rick Thompson, editor of the online publication the Compassion Chronicles, said Warren’s proposal “is an unprecedented level of intrusion.”

“Warren is taking a first step into regulating medical marijuana and they’re doing it in a very bad way,” said Thompson, who lived in Warren and Center Line before moving to Flint Township.

“There are no existing ordinances in the state for caregivers to measure the heat levels in their grow rooms,” he said, pointing out one aspect of the proposal. “We’ve been doing this for seven years in the state. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel with Warren’s ordinance.”

But Thompson said that having locations in manufacturing areas means the sick and injured would be going to areas with no public transportation, that are poorly lit, that don’t have adequate parking or many police patrols.

“It’s not a successful formula for patients,” he said, adding that allowing such centers on major thoroughfares, making them easily identifiable by law enforcement and in areas with better police patrols is a better idea.

He said the Warren proposal dealing with location and ventilation is uncommon and that the city already has ordinances to deal with noise and odors.

Thompson said if the proposal passes, more people in Warren will go to distribution centers in Detroit that are closer and more easily accessible. He said the medical marijuana industry would like to move to Warren — which could see economic benefits and a “happier and healthier citizenry” — but under more reasonable regulations.



November 10

Hashing out pending medical marijuana legislation, potential policy change to avoid felonies

The medical marijuana bills on the other hand, were unlisted and lasted the majority of the hearing. Testimony of House Bills 4209, 4210, and 4827 were followed by no time for public comment.

“It’s a perversion of process and it’s inappropriate,” said Rick Thompson, board member of Michigan’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

“This is now the third or the fourth meeting of the Senate Judiciary where citizenry has not been allowed to speak, and yet industry or law enforcement representatives rule the day.”

Officials voiced concerns regarding pending legislation that would track and regulate dispensaries, and then legalize “marijuana-infused products,” like medibles and topicals: medicines card-carrying patients don’t have to smoke.

“I think we’ve reached the position of the wild, wild west out there right now: apparently caregivers are selling their overages to these dispensaries, there’s no licensing, people don’t know what they get,” said State Senator Rick Jones, (R) 24th District.

Jones and others gave uneasy testimonies touching on a list of worries, including the dangers of making hash oil, wanting the amount of THC in products labeled, and secure transport of products.

“What we want to avoid is the private delivery services, ‘Uber Weed,’ insert random name here, people that are delivering as dispensaries to patients or caregivers,” testified MSP Sgt. Amy Dehner.

Another major point of contention to medical marijuana advocates like Thompson is the majority of testimony was based on the idea of cutting out the caregiver altogether.

“We don’t have an answer for the overage, other than to either phase out or completely get rid of the caregiver model,” said Dehner.

“We’ve seen law enforcement use a lot of different scare tactics in order to intimidate legislators and citizens into participating or into banning distribution centers; this is just more of the same,” said Thompson.

“I’m very distressed to see that the bills are being warped into something that would potentially eliminate the caregiver system, which is a baseboard of our program since 2008.”

Michigan police propose changes to medical pot dispensary bill, end of caregiver model

November 11, 2015

The Michigan Legislature approved a drugged driving bill last year, but only after removing roadside saliva testing language due to concerns that the science was inexact and could lead to improper arrests of medical marijuana patients.

“THC standards just aren’t there,” said Thompson, who is opposed to the new roadside testing bill. “They can detect presence but not impairment. It’s an incomplete tool, and to try to put that into widespread use, without training or understanding the science, is irresponsible.”…

“This is what patients and caregivers have been worried about since the start of this legislative process back in 2011,” said Rick Thompson, a medical marijuana advocate and board member for Michigan NORML.

“We’ve never seen law enforcement agencies openly speak about destroying a core value of the Michigan Medical Marihauana Act until now, but they spoke about it so casually, it almost made it seem as if the decision has been made.”

It would be hard for the Legislature to eliminate the caregiver system — a 3/4 supermajority vote is required to amend a voter-approved law — and Jones made clear that is not the intent of the current legislation.

But Thompson, who was frustrated that there was no public comment period during Tuesday’s hearing, said he is concerned that a court ruling or legal interpretation could jeopardize the caregiver model in the future.


Nov 24, 2015

alternate link: HERE

According to Michigan-based news, opinion and watchdog site, The Compassion Chronicles, despite the legal status of medical marijuana, Michigan sheriffs continue to bust legitimate patients and dispensaries, while they often misappropriate funds on ‘toys’–iPads, tasers, trucks, trailers, ‘fancy’ clothes–and other frivolous items.

Michigan cannabis-focused news-site, The Compassion Chronicles, recently reviewed the report, FY 2015 Report to the Legislature – Medical Marihuana Operation and Oversight Grants to County Law Enforcement Offices, and made their findings public. They claim that beyond arresting registered patients and closing legitimate dispensaries, a number of sheriff departments are misusing funds that are allocated for “education” and “enforcement” of existing law.

Key Observations Made by The Compassion Chronicles

The Compassion Chronicles singles out Governor Rick Synder who signed House Bill 5313 last year, pointing out that the intent of the fund–which receives money from participating patients and caregivers–is to be used by local law enforcement specifically “for the operation and oversight of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program” and the “operation and oversight grants are for education, communication and enforcement of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program.”

Surprisingly, out of the 83 counties in Michigan who were eligible for grants, only four sheriff offices applied for grants. While all four departments were approved and received in aggregate, $167,000, according to The Compassionate Chronicles, much of the money was misused or misappropriated.


Cannabis Pioneers Celebrate Community

Rick Thompson, a board member of MiLegalize and Michigan NORML as well as publisher of the online The Compassion Chronicles, invoked our revolutionary history as he declared, “We are patriots. We must make sacrifices. Who signed the Declaration of Independence: land owners, lawyers, business men, merchants. We are cut from the same cloth.” He acknowledged that the movement is filled with danger and that “We may be harassed from agents of the king: IRS, Social Services.” Nevertheless, “It is time for decisive action.”



Detroit Dispensaries Have a New Adversary: Local Churches

That would be a blow to the industry. Cannabis activist Rick Thompson wrote in October that Ordinance 61 contains a number of “illegal and unfair provisions.”

Medical pot regulations face pushback in Senate hearing, military vet tossed in heated exchange

December 8, 2015

But activists, in their testimony on Tuesday, said the legislative process has focused too little on the patients that the medical marijuana law is intended to benefit.

The bill package “creates far more categories of criminal behavior for medical marijuana patients than it creates protections and rights,” said Rick Thompson of Michigan NORML. “Remember that medical marijuana patients pay the state for the privilege to participate in the program, and yet you’re creating vast degrees of criminality for people who pay for the opportunity to participate.”


Senate Judiciary Committee Meeting Minutes

December 8, 2015


Disagreement over push for stronger medical marijuana regulations

December 15, 2015

“We see Senator Jones having to drum up support for the new version of the bills after last Tuesday’s hearing because he’s introduced some ridiculous restrictions into the language of the bills,” said Rick Thompson, board member with Michigan NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

“(Jones is) going to introduce a three-tier alcohol model system for distribution of the medical marijuana; that’s not demonstrated to be needed.”

Supporters like Thompson told FOX 17 they are no longer on board with these bills, but still support the non-smoking bill, or medical marijuana concentrates legalization through HB 4210.

The National Patients Rights Association Legislative Liaison Robin Schneider was also not attendance Tuesday but told FOX 17 both NPRA and several pediatric patient groups do not support the added regulations; instead they favor “vertically integrated” companies that would create a more affordable system for patients to get their medicine.

The point of contention here, again, is the proposed tiered licensing system for growers, distributors, and retailers in a system that is similar to alcohol regulations. Schneider said the tiered system could drive up prices, while those in favor believe it prevents a monopoly.

“I would rather have us start from scratch with positive interaction from patient organizations and not just business organizations, than to have these bills passed right now,” said Thompson.


Citizen Activist of the Year 2015