60-plus communities opt out of marijuana sales
As dozens of Michigan communities opt out of allowing recreational marijuana retailers, at least one longtime cannabis activist is arguing the proactive move may not be necessary in the first place.
Communities wishing to open their doors to recreational marijuana businesses must make specific changes to their zoning ordinances to allow such businesses, making a formal opt-out at this stage redundant, said Rick Thompson, owner of Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group.
“They do still have to specifically authorize (recreational marijuana) shops,” said Thompson, citing the cases of several provisioning centers shuttered between 2009 and 2017 on the basis of zoning ordinances that did not specifically allow for marijuana sales.
But Thompson’s interpretation runs counter to what many communities interpret to be an opt-out process, in which the only way to close their doors to the businesses is through a proactive ordinance banning them. The Michigan Municipal League has been telling its members as much since November.
Out of pot in Lansing
“Many patients will see their local stores close, making a hardship for sick and ill individuals,” according to Rick Thompson, a founding board member at the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML. “Anyone with a heart or who has ever been sick knows this is bad for patients.”
“This is not like closing a liquor store,” Thompson added. “This is medicine. Treatment needs continuity in order to be effective. When these specialty medications are not available, it significantly affects the health and welfare of the people across the state. That should be a cause for concern for everyone involved.”
Thompson said the industry is predicated on servicing sick people — and that mentality needs to take precedence over any administrative concerns. He urged Whitmer’s administration to take action through an executive order but labeled that maneuver as “highly unlikely” amid other, possibly more pressing priorities.
Thompson points to dozens of state applicants he claims have been rejected licenses for “trivial” reasons. Perhaps most notably, former Detroit Lions players Calvin Johnson and Rob Sims were denied a dispensary license last month in part because of minor, unpaid traffic tickets that Johnson had accrued while visiting family in Georgia.
Amid Michigan medical marijuana shortage, state considers reopening shops
Rick Thompson, a board member of Michigan NORML and MILegalize, said medical marijuana from licensed growers has been more expensive and of lesser quality than what caregivers have been growing.
“The supply chain is certainly broken,” Thompson said. “It’s limited in two aspects: limited in selection and limited in quantity. For patients who are used to a broad assortment of different solutions for their ailments, to be reduced to a few choices it means many people have had their treatments interrupted.”
To bridge the gap in patient access, Thompson said it was critical for caregivers to continue to have a role in supplying licensed medical marijuana provisioning centers.
The Medical Marihuana Licensing Board meets 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16.
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“This is the system working properly,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of Michigan NORML and MILegalize. “All the cannabis provided in 2018 was all from caregivers. If we didn’t hear of any illnesses in 2018, then it doesn’t rise to the level of emergency or concern in my mind.”
Whitmer administration changing tone around Michigan marijuana regulation
But Michigan NORML praised the ruling. Board member Rick Thompson said: “This is the system working properly.”
“All the cannabis provided in 2018 was all from caregivers. If we didn’t hear of any illnesses in 2018, then it doesn’t rise to the level of emergency or concern in my mind.”
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Michigan NORML board member Rick Thompson said marijuana’s remaining presence on the controlled substance list could still cause confusion for law enforcement. He said it’s incumbent for the state legislature to adjust the public health code regardless. This lawsuit will simply force their hand into motion, he suggested.
“It’s technically no longer applicable,” Thompson added. “It hasn’t been since 2008 and it needs to change. We would get the runaround if we tried to pursue this in any other way. This will just put some additional weight on the scales of justice, and I fully anticipate this measure to succeed. I’m confident in our new attorney general.”
State proposes cutting fees for medical marijuana patients and growers
Rick Thompson, a board member with the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, said the proposed rules are welcome relief for patients who may have tight budgets.
“I’m excited to see the state right-sizing the medical-marijuana fee structure,” he said. “The state is collecting millions more than they expend every year. The fees should only be designed to recoup their costs.”
Lobbyists: Caregiver marijuana unfit for retail
And for a group that claims to represent the marijuana industry’s best interests, other long-standing pot advocates have raised an eyebrow at their call to beef up market regulations. Rick Thompson, a board member at the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has doubts.
“This is not some type of citizen group raising these concerns,” Thompson added. “They’re not health professionals. It’s not people with experience in the industry. This is a group of paid spokespeople raising a concern for their own interests, and I feel they have a clear conflict in terms of the arguments being raised.”
Thompson, for his part, contends its unrealistic for licensed caregivers to adhere to standards for licensed processors and growers. He likened industrially produced strains to Kobe beef. Caregiver-grown marijuana might not be the best cut of the metaphorical cow, but it’s still “perfectly healthy” to consume, he maintained.
“Secondly, there have been no reported illnesses here,” Thompson said. “We’re talking about 300,000 patients in a 10-year-old program with absolutely no problems. Obviously health and safety is important in medicine, but this arsenic is not something that would normally be found in cultivation. That was also only one instance.”
Rick Thompson, board member at the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, previously pointed to “trivial” reasons for license rejections. Notably, former Detroit Lions players Calvin Johnson and Rob Sims were once denied licensure partly due to unpaid traffic tickets.
Continued troubles with the licensing board are also part of the reason that Proposal One, to legalize recreational marijuana, also won’t be using a formal board approval process for its eventual applicants, Thompson explained previously. Whitmer also previously spoke to a need to eventually unify the recreational and medical markets.
Whitmer order to create marijuana agency, kill medical pot licensing board
The order removes “a giant pothole” in the medical marijuana highway, but more work is needed to improve cannabis access, said Rick Thompson, a longtime marijuana activist and publisher of Michigan Cannabis Industries Report.
“This merely resolves a symptom, not the underlying illness, paralyzing the (Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act) program,” Thompson said. “That illness: over-regulation.”
“The governor and LARA are looking at the supply chain in a logical way,” said Rick Thompson, founding board member at the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “That’s encouraging. But it’s discouraging to see they’re going to discontinue these temporary operations.”
Advocates said the maneuver was necessary or else the state would invariably face a medical marijuana drought.
“It’s excellent news for caregivers and excellent news for patients,” Thompson added.
“Our real complaint is the distribution of provisioning centers statewide,” Thompson added. “It’s just not sufficient to reach enough patients to justify rescinding this allowance for temporary operations. I fear that patients don’t have a strong enough voice lobbying on their behalf in Lansing.
“The market is robust enough to support quite a few provisioning centers in Lansing. To drop that number to two? It doesn’t really seem to account for the best interests of the ill and injured. … In this rapidly expanding business environment, nothing is certain. Changes could always occur.”
Industry likes Michigan gov’s move to abolish medical marijuana licensing board
Longtime activist Rick Thompson, a principal in the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, said the licensing board was “widely viewed as an obstruction to the actual process of licensing itself.”
“The appointment of some members have been questionable,” he said, “and some of the (license) refusals have been made on very subjective reasons, so the industry is looking forward to a more streamlined process.”
Neither Stein nor Thompson was concerned about the potential for less transparency.
“As long as the information is searchable, the business doesn’t need to be conducted in a circus-style,” Thompson said.
After 4 months, medical marijuana sales in Michigan exceed $42 million
“That exceeds expectations that any of us had for the market,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML. “It’s a great sign since a significant part of the state isn’t serviced by a dispensary yet.”
The state’s voters approved medical marijuana in 2008 63-37 percent and the Legislature passed bills in 2016 to regulate and tax the industry. Voters approved a ballot proposal legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use in November 56-44 percent and the market is expected to exceed $1 billion once it expands licensing to recreational businesses early next year.
Thompson noted that not only are the sales numbers encouraging, but the impact on the economy is also noteworthy.
“When we look at the economic advantage, it goes far beyond simple tax revenues,” he said. “Businesses are being created. Jobs are being created. And there’s redevelopment happening in dilapidated neighborhoods. The advantages of cannabis legalization are far-flung and just now being realized by the state.”
Medical Marijuana Users Get Tax Break Following Legalization
Rick Thompson, who sits on the board of Michigan NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), said he hopes the tax elimination will push state regulators to quickly adopt rules and initiate the licensing of dispensaries in Michigan.
“We’re very hopeful that the loss of excise tax will be an incentive for them to accelerate the rule making process and get recreational cannabis businesses up and running faster in 2019,” he said.
Thompson previously estimated that recreational marijuana business licenses wouldn’t be available until mid-2020.
“The rules for legalization businesses are patterned after the rules for the medical business system, and since that’s already developed, it should be very easy to make adjustments to the legalized program,” he said. “We’re hopeful that by the middle of the year, we’ll start to see the first licensing of cannabis businesses in the adult use sector.”
The quicker the state acts, the sooner they can reap the benefits. Although Michigan has the lowest tax rate of any state for adult use cannabis, Thompson says sales are expected to be widespread — generating $70 to $100 million in new tax revenue.
In the first four months of tracked sales in the medical industry, roughly 6,300 pounds of marijuana was sold in Michigan.
“That translates to a little bit over three tons of cannabis used by medicinal patients statewide,” said Thompson.
Under the new law passed by voters in November, users 21 and older can have up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of the drug on them and up to 10 ounces (284 grams) at home. It also allows users to grow up to 12 plants in their homes. Recreational sales will be taxed 10-percent on top of the six-percent sales tax. Medicinal sales will only be taxed six-percent.
“Medical marijuana will be less expensive for consumers to purchase in Michigan because adult use cannabis will have that 10-percent excise tax — which medical cannabis patients will be spared,” said Thompson.
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“The commercial cannabis production industry is not yet ready to stand alone in the marketplace,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “With such few players on the market, anything that unsettles one of the large cultivation centers could have a catastrophic effect on the supply chain.”
MI regulators set to close about 50 unlicensed medical marijuana shops in April
Michigan regulators announced Friday they’ve selected 57 individuals, including longtime activist Rick Thompson, to participate in work groups that will provide input for the rules that will govern the state’s new recreational marijuana industry.
Authored article syndicated
Michigan Medical Marijuana Sales Top $42 Million in 4 Months, Introducing the Next Big Player in the State
Michigan Medical Marijuana Sales Top $42 Million in 4 Months, Introducing the Next Big Player in the State
“That exceeds expectations that any of us had for the market,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML. “It’s a great sign since a significant part of the state isn’t serviced by a dispensary yet.”
The Michigan Medical Marijuana industry is clearly thriving but it is expected to get a massive boost next year once adult use sales come into play. Michigan voters approved adult use Marijuana during this past November’s election. The adult use market is expected to boost the states’ Cannabis sales to over $1 billion once it goes into full effect next year.
It’s no secret that the Michigan economy has suffered over the past decade or so and a major influx of new tax dollars could be just what the doctor ordered to help the state rebuild its cities that have fallen victim to a struggling economy.
“When we look at the economic advantage, it goes far beyond simple tax revenues,” he said. “Businesses are being created. Jobs are being created. And there’s redevelopment happening in dilapidated neighborhoods. The advantages of Cannabis legalization are far-flung and just now being realized by the state.”
State selects residents for marijuana rules work groups
Individuals or Businesses: Michelle Beeck, Margeaux Bruner, Ethan Cortazzo, Hilary Dulany, Josh Gibson, Ian Gorsche, Brett McMillen, Jerry Millen, Erica Peninger, Richard Rhynard, Brandon Riley, MItzi Ruddock, Luke Schmidt, Kimberly Scott, Rick Thompson
Dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries will likely have to close at the end of this month
“We’re going to see a reduced access for medical marijuana patients because of the shuttering of some of those provisioning centers that are in the process of the licensing,” says Rick Thompson, with the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
NORML Chapter Newsletter – March 2019
Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML
“Businesses are being created. Jobs are being created. And there’s redevelopment happening in dilapidated neighborhoods. The advantages of cannabis legalization are far-flung and just now being realized by the state.”
Read more from the Detroit Free Press!
“With such few players on the market, anything that unsettles one of the large cultivation centers could have a catastrophic effect on the supply chain.”
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“We’re going to see a reduced access for medical marijuana patients because of the shuttering of some of those provisioning centers that are in the process of licensing.”
Read more from Michigan Public Radio!
Michigan recreational marijuana rules moving ‘swiftly’
Last week officials with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) met privately with 57 stakeholders that included medical marijuana businesses, lawyers, municipal representatives and interested individuals to seek their feedback on how adult-use marijuana should be regulated.
Interested individuals: Michelle Beeck, Margeaux Bruner, Ethan Cortazzo, Hilary Dulany, Josh Gibson, Ian Gorsche, Brett McMillen, Jerry Millen, Erica Peninger, Richard Rhynard, Brandon Riley, Mitzi Ruddock, Luke Schmidt, Kimberly Scott, Rick Thompson
Finally, we can talk about what the future of pot in Michigan looks like
Last week LARA hosted a meeting with the 15 folks selected for the individuals and businesses group in Lansing. According to Rick Thompson, one of those selected, the first question from LARA officials was “what went wrong” with the medical marijuana licensing process.
“It’s really great to have a government that actually wants to hear from the citizens,” says Thompson. “For many years we were not welcome. I think it’s a fantastic situation. … It shows that they are doing more than obligatory listening. They’re actually being curious, and they ask intelligent questions.”
Licensed pot growers lock crosshairs on caregivers
Rick Thompson, a board member at the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, claims that licensed facilities — such as Green Peak — cannot crank their operations to full capacity and expect to monopolize the market. Patients already have a working supply; it takes time to switch.
“Patients don’t care how much it costs to grow the cannabis,” Thompson wrote in a recent online blog.
“If your pricing is not in line with the typical price these patients are used to paying, stores will be empty and rooms full of pricey, unsold cannabis will be the norm. … Seducing those people into brick-and-mortar stores will take time, marketing money and high-quality, inexpensive cannabis.”
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- Rick Thompson, co-author of the MMMP legislation, organizer of the Michigan Business Development Conference, member of the board of directors of MILegalize
The Hard Work Of Creating A Marijuana Business Cartel
“The creation of the medical marijuana business program was a highly politicized legislative battle that took several two-year legislative sessions to complete,” said Rick Thompson, an industry advocate with the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
“Special interests from business and law enforcement groups gained the inclusion of many unnecessary requirements and regulations in the program,” Thompson continued. “These extensive financial and background checks, exhaustive cannabis testing and transport procedures, seed-to-sale tracking and compliance protocols have extended the time needed to approve candidates for one of these businesses.”
Many people have pointed to a previous medical marijuana licensing board as a major source of the problem. The board was created as part of a “seed to sale” regulatory regime originally created for medical marijuana by a 2016 law, one of the legislative battles referred to by Thompson. Lawmakers were aware then that a recreational marijuana initiative was in the works, so the law they enacted included provisions to include it. Voters approved that initiative in November 2018, and it imposes its own comprehensive licensure regime.
In March, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order abolishing the medical marijuana board and transferring its license processing duties to a new agency that has regulatory oversight over both medical and recreational marijuana. The agency will be housed within the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and staffed by its employees.
In a phone conversation, Dave Harns, a spokesperson at the licensing agency, pointed to the reforms as a step in the right direction for streamlining policy and approvals. “We were once months behind, then weeks behind. Currently, we are not behind. We are now opening applications as they come in,” Harns said, crediting the improvement to process changes the department developed internally.
Thompson said he expects the process of licensing adult-use (recreational) cannabis businesses to go a lot smoother when the agency issues “emergency guidance” by this summer.
The bill that recently passed the House was sponsored by Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, and it would establish that unlicensed medical cannabis businesses still in operation would be barred from getting a license for one year starting June 1.
Thompson, despite many challenges ahead, says he is still optimistic.
“Michigan has evolved away from questioning the medical necessity of cannabis, yet still struggles to accept cannabis-based businesses in many communities.” He added, “The future looks very bright for our industry.”
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“The people of Michigan deserve this,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
“They earned it,” he continued. “We’ve faced many trials and tribulations. We’ve had so many stop and go signs from the federal government.”
THE MOST UP-TO-DATE FROM MICHIGAN | THE MARIJUANA INSTANCES
“So far the state has earned a B+ grade on rolling out the adult-use applications – but it is really early in the game,” Rick Thompson, board member of NORML of Michigan and board member of MILegalize 2018 and 2016, told The Marijuana Instances. “Draft guidelines are anticipated in June, then emergency guidelines, then permanent administrative guidelines in late 2019 or early 2020.
“What earns them higher marks so far has been their willingness to take input. By means of 3 days in Lansing, the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation took input from 45 sector specialists, then spent two days in Detroit hearing from 80 interested parties and completed up in the far northern Upper Peninsula with a a single day seminar featuring two dozen participants.”
Matthew Capable, Executive Director of Michigan NORML, grants slightly greater marks, providing the “Whitmer administration an A- on this problem so far. They are collecting details from function groups and count on to have draft guidelines by June” although also granting industrial hemp licenses.
A significant element of recreational sales will be a robust health-related marijuana sector in the state. And at the moment, that sector is struggling. “Legal sales will start in previously-licensed health-related cannabis retail places, so creating the health-relatedcannabis infrastructure in Michigan is necessary or a significant catastrophe will happen,” Rick Thompson told us. “The health-related business enterprise infrastructure is getting constructed at a slow pace and for 300,000 sufferers. There are 7 million adults in Michigan and this is a well known tourist state. If the health-related side is underdeveloped when retail sales of adult-use cannabis come on line, sector-crippling solution shortages will occur.”
Rick describes a battle in the state more than partially-licensed dispensaries “with corporate interests calling for them to be closed and patient interests calling for them to stay open.” This is an problem we have covered a couple of occasions right here at TheMarijuana Instances.
“Michigan is on fire proper now, and all the heat is on the cannabis provide sector,” Rick mentioned.
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Michigan’s new marijuana agency will regulate a market in turmoil
The partial separation of the agency from LARA makes sense given the time and resources the marijuana industry is likely to monopolize, said Rick Thompson, a longtime cannabis advocate and publisher of Michigan Cannabis Industries Report.
“At this point, it makes sense to have all the administration under one roof,” Thompson said.
Changes in medical licensing
In the regulated medical pot market, the largest immediate change will be the end of medical marijuana licensing meetings that have become infamous for applicants and attendees.
The hours-long meetings held roughly once a month for more than a year have sparked disagreements, debate and appeals among applicants who argued they were mistreated by the appointed board or delayed by the state review of their applications.
The board’s denials frustrated applicants who felt licensing standards were not applied equally or consistently, said Green Peak Innovation’s Joe Neller.
Thompson is relieved the licensing board’s role will end.
“That was a circus,” Thompson said. “It was non-productive. It aired a lot of dirty laundry, and I didn’t feel like transparency was added.”
Busted for weed? Don’t worry. Michigan could have your back.
Others are taking a more liberal approach. Rick Thompson, a board member at the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, advocates for all marijuana-related crimes — including those that exceed the current legal possession limit — to be wiped clean from criminal records.
“Drug crimes, in particular, can be really damaging to a person’s employability, their ability to enroll in school or the military and just in their personal relationships in general,” Thompson added. “If you have a drug felony and people know that, I think you can expect to be treated differently. That’s just how it is. Expungement can help.”
Michigan’s legal medical marijuana market remains dominated by illegal product
Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of NORML, said patients will turn to the black market to find caregiver products once they are no longer sold at licensed shops.
“In the cannabis world, price is king,” Thompson said. “The Michigan Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act ramps up the cost of cannabis to the point where it’s not competitive with what’s available with what’s on the alternative market in Michigan.”
Michigan regulator makes impact
The newly established Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency made its mark in regulating the state’s cannabis industry.
The agency said medical cannabis dispensaries no longer can buy products directly from caregivers.
MJBizDaily takeaway: Longtime activist Rick Thompson, a principal in the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, said the state’s previous licensing board was “widely viewed as an impediment” and he expects the new agency to streamline the process and issue licenses at a faster rate.
Only 79 dispensary licenses have been issued and activated so far, and Thompson said that low number has resulted in “pretty poor coverage” in a state so vast.
Even more problematic, he said, is that prices are so high under the stricter regulations that many patients have gone back to the illicit market.
Ex-Senate Leader sent email citing influence with Michigan pot board
Rick Thompson, a marijuana activist who’s watched Michigan’s licensing process closely, said the public’s perception about whether the board was fair in handing out licenses for the new industry is important. The public should be entitled to a “full inquiry” regarding board members’ actions, he said when asked about the Meekhof email.
“I am extremely concerned about accusations of bias in the licensing process, especially considering the logjam of applicants that have been waiting their opportunity,” Thompson said.
Multiple individuals, including Thompson, the marijuana activist, who’ve watched the debate over marijuana policies unfold in Lansing for years said they weren’t surprised Meekhof had become a consultant whose clients have included those with interests in medical marijuana.
“We’ve seen a trend in Lansing of lawmakers working on the marijuana issue and then turning right around and going to work for the industry,” Thompson said.
Thousands flock to first High Times Cannabis Cup in Michigan since
Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Legalization), said the success of the Cannabis Cup event in Michigan is another indicator of how it was time for legalization in the state.
“I think a lot of the expectations that people have had for this industry are going to be woefully lacking,” he argued. “I see far more interest in this than anyone ever gave credit for.”
Thompson sees Michigan becoming a destination for others in the Midwest “whose states may be struggling with having legitimate cannabis laws” and those who’ve provided medical marijuana to patients moving into the recreational side.
As far as Michigan, Thompson said the legalization program is “moving at the proper pace.”
“We wanted it to be faster than the medical program, which it has been, but also at a deliberative level so they don’t have to keep changing the rules,” he said.
Thompson pointed out the administering of the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act has led to issues for applicants as regulations kept adjusting that, in turn, produced a lack of confidence in the system.
“It also makes communities more hesitant to say yes to medical or legalized recreational marijuana laws, so we really need to have more organization, more confidence in the populace in order for more communities to say yes,” he said, with some improvement coming in administration of both sides now falling under the Marijuana Regulatory Agency through the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
With Michigan legalizing recreational marijuana, Thompson said the state has become “a bellwether” for others.
“In Illinois, their governor got elected saying I’m going to legalize cannabis right off the bat,” noted Thompson of J.B. Pritzker. “It was a real selling point for his candidacy and we’re seeing quite a change because just a few years ago saying yes to legalized cannabis was the death nell for anybody’s political career.”
Having attended the Hash Bash in Ann Arbor earlier this year and the Cannabis Cup this weekend as part of record crowds, Thompson said “Every time I turn around there’s another milestone that makes me excited for my role in helping to pass Proposal 1.”
“Recreational (marijuana) has really made it OK for the average Joe to get interested in this,” Thompson said. “I think the populace is really showing that this was something long overdue.”
June 17 – photo credit
When can I buy marijuana in Michigan?
Rick Thompson, board member of Michigan NORML and publisher of the Michigan Cannabis Industries Report, said the state took “significant” steps toward securing the supply chain by allowing medical products to be sold in the adult-use program.
“There remains concern that the initial recreational demand will outstrip the supply and cause market disruption,” Thompson said.
Why marijuana activist John Sinclair deserves a holiday
That’s more than good enough for Rick Thompson, a marijuana activist and owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development group. Thompson is pushing a proposal among activists to have the first Saturday in April declared John Sinclair Day in Ann Arbor — which is also the day of the annual Hash Bash.
“The goal is to raise awareness of cannabis law history on the one day a year that Ann Arbor cannot deny its link to cannabis law reform,” says Thompson. “On the day when we have Hash Bash and Monroe Street Fair, it’s easy to forget while we’re in the middle of partying that people toiled and fought to achieve this. Having John Sinclair Day might lead some to reflect and the city to memorialize our industry and put a face on it.”
Thompson says that Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has given his personal support to the plan and that he expects to get a formal endorsement form NORML. That means that national activists are aware of Sinclair and supportive of honoring him. All it really takes is for the Ann Arbor City Council to make the declaration. Surely there are members of that governing board who would support it. Council members have been regulars among the Hash Bash speakers for many years.
It will also take some folks in Ann Arbor to get busy to make it happen. Thompson doesn’t live there. Marijuana legalization has been a statewide movement, but the Ann Arbor City Council’s job is to respond to the folks in Ann Arbor. Chuck Ream lives there and he’s on board.
“Councils routinely do this to celebrate important days in their history, whether it’s Founder’s Day or Pioneers Day,” says Thompson. “We’re just asking them to celebrate that in a different way. … I’m not aware of anywhere else that has designated a day to honor a cannabis activist. It certainly would be the first one here in Michigan.”
Photo credit: https://www.healthcarepackaging.com/markets/cannabis/news/13295010/what-the-heck-is-the-california-marijuanapocalypse
Michigan’s Adult-Use Rules Put Cannabis Pioneers Out in the Cold
“We’ve seen four and five applications for the same entity being approved simultaneously,” says Rick Thompson, a leading cannabis advocate and organizer of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Conference.
Thompson is referring to the practices of the medical market’s now-defunct Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) Board.
“No small business could afford the expense up front,” says Thompson, “so bigger businesses have dominated the medical licensing process.”
“The real problem is that the legislature created such a burdensome [medical] regulatory program” under former Gov. Snyder’s MMFLA, says Rick Thompson. “It took a long time to get rolling, then the board created a whole new set of problems with licensing. So I blame the legislature. We’ve had business licensing for a year, and we still can’t supply 300,000 [medical cannabis] patients. That’s not a good result.”
Cannabis convention discusses caregiver, patient and adult use
LANSING, MI (WILX) – The Michigan Cannabis Business Development group hosted their first conference since the release of the new adult-use rules.
The day long event took place at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Lansing.
The group says the goal of the event is to clear confusion surrounding new rules and laws.
“We have a legislative expert that will talk about all the different proposals that are facing the legislature. We have legal experts that will talk about some of the court cases that just come in to favor business and favor patients and we’ll also have a hemp expert to talk about all the different things related to that industry,” said Rick Thompson, Owner Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group
“People are very interested in the new hemp industry,” added Thompson. “What will it take to get involved what are the up-front costs what will it require? People are also interested in expungement. They wanna see people who’ve had misdemeanors and felonies that they received during the war on drugs erased from their record so that they can move forward with their lives with a clean slate.”
Thompson says the conference and expo is unique because it brings patients,caregivers, and adult users together for the first time.
Attorneys and businesses were also in attendance to help consumers.
This is the first time the event has been offered to the public for free.
New bill would clear marijuana-related crimes
LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Marijuana leaders from across the state joined forces today in Lansing to talk about how to move forward in an ever-changing industry.
“Once we’ve given personal freedoms, we can’t forget about those people who were unfairly punished by the system prior to those new rules,” said Rick Thompson, the owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group. “Expungement is how we take away the stain that those people have experienced through their negative cannabis encounters with law enforcement.”
Right now more 250,000 people in Michigan have a criminal record for marijuana-related crimes. Those crimes are now legal.
“Erasing felonies and erasing misdemeanors is important for people to be able to move forward with their lives,” said Thompson.
The Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group hosted a conference today in downtown Lansing to help marijuana business owners learn more about the industry, expungement being one of the main topics.
“They’re inhibited from employment, they’re inhibited from membership in the armed forces or in college careers. There are many different ways that the stain can stay with them,” said Thompson.
Michigan Senator Jeff Irwin introduced a bill earlier this month that would clear the records of people convicted for possession or use of marijuana in Michigan.
Right now only 6 percent of those affected go through the current process because of it being expensive, long, and sometimes uncertain.
Justin Dunaskiss, a lobbyist and speaker at the conference today, says he sees this bill making progress.
“I know the governor and attorney general made that campaign promises and so I think we’re going to see some activity on that in this legislative sessions,” said Dunaskiss.
Thompson hopes that that’s the case.
“It’s time for us to fix that forever, once and for all,” said Thompson.
How BDT Smoke Shops weathered the War on Drugs
Goure has been a big supporter of marijuana legalization efforts. His businesses have been visible and vocal. He’s hosted 420 events at the Hazel Park store, and last week, the store hosted the Jazz Cabbage podcast from Jamie Lowell and Rick Thompson, two longtime cannabis activists who have moved into promoting businesses.
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Letter to the Editor
Anti-pot op-ed misleading
Kevin Sabet and Melvyn Levitsky’s guest piece (“Protect vulnerable groups from exposure to Big marijuana,” Aug. 1) falsely characterized the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act…
MICHIGAN BANS CERTAIN FOODS FROM MEDICINAL POT USAGE
Rick Thompson, the editor and publisher of the Michigan Cannabis Industries Report has said that the elimination of any refrigerated or frozen goods “significantly restricts the number of ways patients can purchase their medicine from provisioning centers.”
He remarked, “From a patient perspective, there is a more friendly way to view the rules than the way they’re doing it; it’s possible more leeway could be applied.”
Many are upset over butter being banned because its a staple in a lot of foods that are made.
“That eliminates one of the main ingredients used in an awful lot of cannabis treatments,” said Thompson.
MSP to crack down on illegal marijuana dispensaries
Dispensaries and provision centers can’t make direct purchases from caregivers, according to a rule change earlier this year, Michigan Cannabis Business Development Owner Rick Thompson told The Center Square.
“Caregivers must sell to processors so the cannabis is tested and goes through the processing system,” Thompson said.
Prices rise in Michigan’s medical marijuana market as supply wanes
“The current amount of cannabis being produced by licensed cultivators is not sufficient to supply the demand for medicinal cannabis without being augmented by caregiver supply,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of NORML. “This will continue to be the case well into 2020.”
Thompson argued that keeping a plentiful supply of marijuana flower in licensed businesses is key to ensuring the success of the regulated market.
“Cannabis consumers already have unregulated sources of cannabis; if the MMFLA and the adult use retail systems are to be successful they have to create a valuable alternative to that existing supply. That value to the consumer is not contained in pretty countertops or polished floors, it is measured in the availability of high quality cannabis products, and raw flower is the most popular of the retail products available,” Thompson said. “A shortage of flower in MMFLA stores is a gift to the black market. Why would we want to do that?”
Data from the Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s quarterly reports supports Thompson’s statement: flower sales lead the medical market, closely followed by marijuana concentrates — which includes vape cartridges, shatter and Rick Simpson Oil.
Pro-cannabis group makes good showing in Northport
NORTHPORT — Two men who talked about the benefits of having a marijuana provisioning center in a community spent nearly two hours fielding questions at the Northport Village Council meeting Thursday.
Rick Thompson, who sits on the board of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and Jamie Lowell, who helped write Proposal 1, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana in Michigan, were both at the meeting.
Thompson and Lowell were invited by Trustee Will Harper in response to a visit last month by retired state police sergeant Donald Bailey, who talked about the disadvantages of dispensing marijuana.
Bailey was invited by Trustee Mike Stoffel.
About 65 people attended Thursday’s meeting. Many had questions for Thompson and Lowell, while many told personal stories of how medical marijuana has helped them or a family member.
Harper asked Thompson to address several issues regarding provisioning centers, including whether having one increases crime, increases use of the drug among teens, and whether marijuana is a gateway drug.
Thompson said statistics show crime has not gone up in Michigan since 2009, when the state got its first facilities. University studies show that use of marijuana by teens goes down where it is legal, while law enforcement statistics show its use goes up, he said.
As far as being a gateway drug, “Studies from all over the United States show no correlation between youth use of marijuana and adult use of other drugs,” Thompson said.
Some people asked about the black market sale of marijuana. Thompson said legalization and regulation is the only way to fight it.
“Every sale that takes place in a dispensary is one less sale on the black market,” he said.
Marijuana Regulatory Agency to present new statewide Social Equity Program
“Once you accept the fact that we need cannabis businesses in our communities in order to serve the patients that live there, what we’re talking about is making a level playing field so that folks who don’t have a lot of financial advantage are not left out of the program,” said Rick Thompson, board member.
Marijuana Regulatory Agency launches plan for more minorities to get involved in business
“Once you accept the fact that we need cannabis businesses in our communities in order to serve the patients that live there, what we’re talking about is making a level playing field so that folks who don’t have a lot of financial advantage are not left out of the program,” said Rick Thompson, the Board of Directors for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Former lawmakers are cashing in on Michigan’s lucrative marijuana industry
The state will begin accepting applications for recreational marijuana business licenses on Nov. 1, with people already holding medical marijuana licenses getting first dibs on most of the recreational licenses for the first year.
“This is the same pattern we see in other industries, where we see the Legislature-to-private industry pipeline. The cannabis industry is just like any other,” said Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group. “Being a lobbyist becomes a natural extension of their time in the Legislature.”
Northport opts into medical, recreational cannabis
In September the board heard from retired state police sergeant Donald Bailey, who talked about the disadvantages of dispensing marijuana.
In October the board heard from Rick Thompson from the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and Jamie Lowell, who helped write Proposal 1.
Local mom, daughter duo open medical marijuana provisioning center
Cannabis advocate Rick Thompson says this also brings more revenue and jobs to Flint.
“There’s a social equity program that’s associated with the city of Flint, there’s lots of opportunities for average folks to get involved, there’s no reason for us to shut our doors to this industry,” Thompson stated.
Cannabis Expert Rick Thompson To Co-Host M2 Techcast In November
ROYAL OAK – M2 Techcast, a live Internet TV show focused on business, technology and now the Cannabis business, will have a guest host in November – Rick Thompson, owner of the Cannabis Business Development Group, and radio show host of Jazz Cabbage Café.
Our regular co-host, Matt Roush, formerly editor of the Great Lakes Technology Report and now Director of Media Relations at Lawrence Technological University, is out for health reasons until December.
“We’re excited to have the most quoted Cannabis Industry professional in Michigan covering for Matt while he recovers from surgery,” said Mike Brennan, co-host M2 Techcast, as well as Editor of MITechNews.Com and MIMarijuanaReport.Com.
“Rick will introduce our audience to more up-and-coming Cannabis businesses in November. But we’ll still cover our core audience of technology entrepreneurs.”
Added Thompson: “This podcast covers two areas of great interest to me- technology and the cannabis industry. I’m excited and proud to work with Mike on this short series of podcasts.”
The law “allows all townships to initiate a petition drive related to adult-use cannabis proposals,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of Michigan’s National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “Nearly all townships are prevented from doing so under normal circumstances …
“This was added to allow for citizens to have an unprecedented ability to express their will through the petitioning process.”
Other advocates for liberalizing marijuana in Michigan say they want municipalities to allow more businesses to operate. Michigan NORML board member Rick Thompson, a cannabis activist and journalist, says he’s not surprised to see current marijuana business owners opposing these kinds of ballot initiatives.
“We expect that business will behave the way business traditionally has behaved in Michigan, which is protectionism, deny opportunity to any competitors,” he says.
But Thompson agrees with Millen that the proposals’ defeat isn’t a long term problem for Michigan’s emerging cannabis industry.
“Many of the communities who don’t allow businesses have publicly stated that they’re just waiting until 2020 before taking a serious look at adding this segment to their local economies. Most communities which are saying ‘no,’ are actually just saying ‘not yet,’” he says.
“So, I don’t perceive this as a bad year for cannabis petitions at all,” says Thompson.
Flint City Pop Up Tent Feeds Flint’s Eastside
Flint City Pop Up Tent is a small nonprofit that makes a big difference in the neighborhood they serve. They host events and serve dinner on Sundays at 5 p.m. on the corner of Leith and Franklin on Flint’s Eastside. The group of family and friends has been serving the community for close to two years. They aspire to provide the traditional experience of a Sunday family dinner with a community that has both broken and non-traditional homes.
Rick Thompson, a longtime activist and owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, gives the MRA high marks for its professionalism and added that he wouldn’t want to be the person making the tough decision on adult-use launch timing.
But, he added: “I think it makes much more sense to fully develop a supply chain before opening the floodgates on sales.
“Many people in Michigan are concerned that you’ll be bleeding cannabis from an already struggling medical market and this will just decrease product availability to patients.”
On the other hand, Thompson noted that “MMJ provisioning centers have been inundated with people ready to go in the rec market. The (adult-use) market is ready to burst, and it seems like this will get the ball rolling quicker than any other way.”
But it still will be difficult to drastically reduce the illicit market, he said.
“Consumers have had their illicit sources for decades,” Thompson noted.
He predicted that legal rec cannabis won’t become the sole source, “just an option for most users in Michigan.”
Medical marijuana provisioning center opens in Lapeer with plans for recreational market
He said there’s a lot of attention on the recreational market. Rick Thompson is a board member of marijuana advocacy group Michigan NORML.
“Dec. 1st is when the licenses will begin to operate, but that’s a Sunday and no businesses are allowed to be open on Sunday. So Dec. 2nd we’ll launch the adult use market here in Michigan,” Thompson said. “There should be about 15 to 20 businesses that are in the initial phase of that. More will be added as time goes on.”
According to the latest data from the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, some 1,400 communities have opted out of the recreational marijuana market…
“That’s the position many places have taken in the state of Michigan. There’s only about 125 places that have said yes to cannabis businesses at this particular time,” Thompson said.
On first day of legal weed sales, you’ll only find it in one Michigan city
Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, said after working for years to get marijuana legalized in Michigan, the first day of sales will be bittersweet.
“It’s certainly a benchmark and a doorway to a new era,” he said. “I just wish it would be more accessible to more Michiganders at the outset.”
The sales come just over a year since Michigan voters approved a ballot measure that legalized marijuana use, possession, growing and sales by a 56%-44% margin. Michigan became the 10th state in the nation to legalize weed for adult recreational use.
The state began accepting applications for recreational marijuana business licenses on Nov. 1 and has since awarded eight licenses and pre-qualified another 73 applications. But more than 1,400 of the state’s 1,771 communities have said they don’t want marijuana businesses in their towns, so finding a city that’s amenable to legal weed has been a challenge for businesses.
Many cities are holding off while local leaders develop ordinances that will govern marijuana businesses and others have said yes to marijuana, but are going through the process of deciding which businesses will be allowed in.
So even though the rollout of legal sales will be slow and limited, the number of businesses is expected to grow in the new year.
“Regardless of the form of the sales, though, legalization should be celebrated,” Thompson said…
Thompson said he planned to make the trek to Ann Arbor on Sunday.
“Every time I think of the legalized market, I have a big smile on my face,” he said. “I won’t let this day go buy without being there, so I’ll be in Ann Arbor on Sunday.”
Michigan celebrates first legal cannabis purchases
A flyer from Rick Thompson of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group marked the momentousness of the occasion:
“What is legal is a matter of momentary circumstance. What is right is determined by history’s moral standards. Slavery was legal, apartheid was legal, the Holocaust was legal but we refer to Biko, Mandela, Sojourner Truth, and Anne Frank as heroes for their disobedience of the immoral laws of the moment.”
“Today we hold as heroes the people whose defiance of unjust laws in Michigan made them outlaws at the time, and eventually, heroes of record.”
Hundreds wait in line for first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales
Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, said Sunday was the culmination of decades of work to legalize marijuana.
“We’re the first state in the Midwest to be able to walk this path. We are a leader and the way cannabis law reform has been accomplished so far,” he said, after buying several pre-rolled joints. “Damn it. America is a beautiful place. And Michigan is more beautiful today.”
Thompson is Michigan’s most frequently quoted industry figure. A graduate of Flint Central in 1983, Thompson started the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine and was on the Board of the Big Daddy’s organization in 2009, which became the state’s first chain of cannabis dispensaries. He currently sits on the Board of NORML of Michigan; is the owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group; and was a principal in the Proposal 1 movement, which legalized cannabis for adults in 2018. He resides in Flint Township.
Sinclair was born at Women’s Hospital in 1941 and Thompson at Flint Osteopathic in 1965. Both men attended the University of Michigan- Flint at different times. Both are proud of their Flint roots and speak highly of the city to media.
Historic and momentous were just two words to describe the feeling of those who legally bought recreational marijuana in Michigan today. Rick Thompson, who was involved in the legalization effort, talked live with WWJ’s Ron Dewey just minutes after he bought his pot.
Rick Thompson, owner of the Flint-based cannabis education firm Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, said he drove to Ann Arbor in white-out conditions to witness the historic day.
“The consumer demand was off the charts,” said Thompson, who also serves on the Michigan NORML board.
“Each of the provisioning centers had lines out the door and around the block. Most had police officers on hand to ensure people were safe from traffic.”
Thompson, who purchased five Forbidden Jelly joints at Arbors Wellness, was second in line behind John Sinclair and Ryan Basore, who both had been incarcerated for marijuana possession and together made the store’s first adult-use purchase.
The only disappointment, Thompson said, was that more recreational stores were not open to people across the state.
Ann Arbor provisioning center ready to make first legal sales of adult-use cannabis in Michigan
Meanwhile, Flint Township resident Rick Thompson will be making a similar sale after their purchase. Thompson founded the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine and sits on the board of NORML of Michigan. Thompson was also a principal in the Proposal 1 movement.
Rick Thompson, who helped in the effort to legalize marijuana was among the first to purchase cannabis Sunday morning at Arbors Wellness.
“Victory has never felt so sweet as it does today,” Thompson told WWJ. “There were a lot of jubilant faces. There are people giving high fives, a lot of people hugging each other as they heard their individual stories of perhaps being victimized by the drug war or their medical needs so they couldn’t get a recommendation for it. It was a coming together of individuals. It was beautiful.”
Thompson says Michigan will not only benefit from the sale of “flower” products, but thinks hemp and CBD oils will also be popular.
Medical cannabis has been allowed for about 300,000 patients for more than a decade, but Sunday marks the first opportunity for people who were not medically qualified to purchase it legally.
“So you can imagine people who have been cannabis enthusiasts for quite some time are interested in having their piece of history,” Thompson said.
MICHIGAN MAN JAILED IN 1969 FOR POSSESSING TWO JOINTS BECOMES THE FIRST PERSON TO LEGALLY PURCHASE CANNABIS IN THE STATE
Fellow marijuana activist Rick Thompson was also among the hundreds of people who queued to buy marijuana on Sunday morning. Michigan Live reported that he noted to Sinclair how “things have come full circle, haven’t they?”
And finally Marijuana activist Rick Thompson will reflect on the decades long effort to make recreational Marijuana legal in Michigan.
First-time Michigan recreational marijuana shoppers stranded in line given complimentary joints
Rick Thompson, who created Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine in 2009 with his friend, Rick Ferris, helped operate a group of early dispensaries. He spoke about a 2010 raid by Oakland County sheriff’s deputies at their Oak Park location that resulted in a two-yea prison sentence for Ferris.
“Back then we were all pirates and rebels and outlaws,” Thompson said.
As the first recreational sale to Sinclair was rung up on a laptop MacBook computer, Thompson said he got “chills.”
“Damn it, America is a beautiful place,” Thompson said. “And Michigan is more beautiful today.”
On first day for legal marijuana in Michigan, lines were long and demand high
“Now we’ve come full circle, we have eliminated those bad laws, we are walking the path for a better America,” said Rick Thompson, Michigan Norml. “This is important for Michigan, it is important for the Midwest, it is important for the United States of America.”
also published across the nation via the Fox network, including: https://www.fox4news.com/news/on-first-day-for-legal-marijuana-in-michigan-lines-were-long-and-demand-high
Activist and poet John Sinclair among first to purchase legal recreational marijuana in Michigan, 50 years after his historic arrest
“Things have come full circle, haven’t they, John,” longtime marijuana activist Rick Thompson asked Sinclair, a Detroit resident who resembles a jazz musician with his iconic goatee beard and now uses a wheelchair.
“It would be more full if they came and gave me back the weed that they took,” Sinclair responded.
Cannabis Leaders Night Dinner Dec 5 in Lansing is First Since Legalized Retail Sales Began
Retail sales of legal cannabis products began on December 1st, but what do industry experts think about the launch of the program? Or the vape product ban? The industry has many challenges ahead.”
John Sinclair – Free the Weed 104 – December 2019
Joining in on the early moments of history was long time activist, MINORML board member and cannabis media expert Rick Thompson who recorded the second recreational cannabis transaction in the state. Rick was appropriately in the mix at the beginning of a new era for Michigan. After the press frenzy and accolades subsided, the initial group left Arbors Wellness to make room for the general public, which had lined up down the street and around the block. The diehards began the line in the cold at 4:30am, including people who traveled from out of state to participate in the event.
Is Lansing the future weed capital of Michigan?
“Lansing and Flint were both one or two Council members away from being Ann Arbor,” explained Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group. “It’s all about the constitution of the City Council. That’s the real determining factor in which city gets the first stab at the recreational market.”
“Look at the history. Lansing has had some significant resistance to adopting pro-cannabis ordinances,” Thompson added. “Ann Arbor, on the other hand, was willing to make this work more quickly. Lansing is just a step behind, and it all comes down to whether the City Council truly represents the feelings of its citizens.”