In The News – 2020

January 13, 2020

JANUARY

On the first M2 videocast of 2020, Dan Lohrmann will discuss the top cybersecurity stories of 2019, including the rise of ransomware attacks on governments. Rick Thompson will speculate on what will happen in the Cannabis business market in 2020.

https://www.thealpenanews.com/life/2020/01/sunrise-side-bulletin-board-146/

A Town Hall style open meeting to discuss the benefits associated with “opting in” regarding the allowance of recreational marijuana will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, at Alcona Township Hall in Black River, sponsored by NE Michigan NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws).

City and township officials and the public are invited. Speakers will be Rick Thompson from the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, Tom Reif, a municipal consultant, and Jamie Lowell, a contributor to and associate author of the Michigan Recreational Marijuana law.

January 17

Michigan’s new anti-marijuana ads raise eyebrows 

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/michigans-new-anti-marijuana-ads-raise-eyebrows,13754?

“Ads trying to target high school students with a message about staying away from cannabis can be totally fine,” said Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group. “But these videos aren’t so clear about the target audience, and they use some inappropriate and well-disproven tropes about cannabis.”

“If you’re saying these sorts of things to high school kids, that’s one thing,” Thompson said. “That makes some sense. But if this message is intended for adults and is somehow trying to be a disincentive for adult use, that seems horribly contradictory when another state-level department is actively working to develop this industry.” 

January 18

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2020/01/17/are-you-high-marijuana-advocates-fume-over-new-state-backed-ads/4502648002/

Rick Thompson, board member for the Michigan affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said he had been encouraged by forward moves from the state on marijuana. The new ads use old tropes and seem “like a step backward,” Thompson said.Get the COVID-19 Update newsletter in your inbox.

If the ads more clearly targeted high school students, they would be more palatable, Thompson added. Currently, there seems to be an inconsistent message coming from state government — discouraging the use of marijuana while licensing marijuana businesses — he said…

“What we are talking about is an inconsistent message coming from the state of Michigan,” Thompson said.

January 21

https://www.wilx.com/content/news/State-responds-to-controversial-pot-PSA-567171641.html

“Trying to discourage youth from using cannabis is a noble one, in fact we’ve excluded youth from the adult use of cannabis when the law was passed, said NORML board member Rick Thompson.

There were six videos put up by the department online – as of Jan. 21 – there was onlyone

MDHHS said it created the campaign to show teens what life could be like if they use marijuana while their brain is still developing.

Thompson said this approach won’t work.

“We need to communicate with our citizens honestly, not using 1950 tropes that demonize people who use cannabis,” said Thompson.

January 22

Michigan pulls plug on anti-marijuana campaign

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/michigan-pulls-plug-on-anti-marijuana-campaign,13758?

Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, argued the videos weren’t clearly intended for a teenage audience and used “inappropriate and well-disproven tropes about cannabis.” And the bearded “high schooler” in the video hardly appeared teenaged — instead more likely in his early to mid-20s.

“It’s actually really encouraging,” Thompson said this week. “This is an example of the public rising up over an issue and the government responding. It’s sort of the American condition to distrust the government and expect them to just ignore these pleas from the people. But in this instance, we’re seeing a very responsive government.”

However, it appears state officials are now heading back to the drawing board to rethink their advertising plans.

“Kudos to the Whitmer administration for responding quickly,” Thompson added. “As a governmental lesson, $300,000 is a pretty inexpensive price to pay. We’ve seen the government waste more money and learn a lot less.”

January 23

Lobby firm tied to licensing director lobbies her staff on marijuana

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2020/01/23/firm-tied-michigan-lara-director-lobbies-department-marijuana/4555146002/

The reason the Marijuana Regulatory Agency was severed from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs “was to avoid the impression of impropriety,” said Rick Thompson, board member for the Michigan affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The email exchange between a GCSI lobbyist and the department’s deputy director cut against the idea, Thompson said. But he added that he’s seen no evidence of wrongdoing among state regulators and that he respects Brisbo’s “integrity.”

A small number of decisions a company makes in the burgeoning marijuana industry can determine if the company sinks or swims, said Thompson, board member of Michigan’s NORML affiliate. 

“You have to be concerned that there is information transfer happening at some point,” he said.

January 23

DHHS Rethinking Teen Anti-Marijuana Ad Campaign After Backlash

https://www.gongwer.com/blog/?postid=118301

Rick Thompson, the owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, told the City Pulse that the ads used “inappropriate and well-disproven tropes about cannabis.”

Mr. Thompson told the City Pulse that he was encouraged by the backlash and called it an example of “the public rising up over an issue and the government responding.”

February

February 13

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/need-pills-for-pain-some-doctors-say-lay-off-the-weed,13845

“Physicians often make you choose between their medications or cannabis,” explained Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group. “It’s been a struggle. These doctors are in constant fear of losing their ability to prescribe these drugs, and it can put them at odds for what works for the patient.”

Thompson, an avid cannabis smoker, has also had his own struggles with obtaining prescription medication. He said he recently visited an emergency room in Royal Oak over blinding migraines, but because he also smoked marijuana, his doctor refused to offer him a prescription — instead only offering simple oxygen therapy.

And those restrictive policies have made it difficult for cannabis smokers to get the treatment they deserve.

“These doctors are all concerned they’ll be penalized by the federal government,” Thompson added. “The solution is de-scheduling cannabis on a federal level. Some doctors might be more lenient, but that’s the only sign that will be a universal message to physicians in all 50 states. Anything else would only be a half step.”

February 19

https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/02/michigan-marijuana-industry-sounds-off-on-proposed-rules.html

  • Rick Thompson, publisher of the Michigan Cannabis Industries Report, said the state is infringing on private citizen marijuana rights in an effort to give big businesses an advantage. He said the scope of the definition offered for a “consumption establishment” is too broad and could make ordinary citizens into “accidental criminals.” The proposed rules define a consumption establishment as: “A person that allows consumption of marijuana products on the premises of a non-residential location and charges a fee for entry, sells goods or services while individuals are consuming on the premises or requires membership for entry.”
  • Thompson takes issue with rumors he’s heard that events like Ann Arbor’s Hash Bash and Monroe Street Fair, both events where marijuana consumption is prevalent, will be required to obtain event permits under the rules. “There’s no admission charge, nor are there vendors selling cannabis at either event, therefore, these seem not to meet the requirement,” he said.

March

March 2

https://mjbizdaily.com/michigan-wholesale-marijuana-flower-prices-soar-on-tight-supply-lack-of-community-approvals/

Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group that’s based in Flint, said the regulators have moved the “goal posts in regards to testing standards.”

The state added a test for vitamin E acetate after the vaping health scare broke out last year, leading to a recall of more than 9,000 vape cartridges from one Detroit dispensary alone.

It also recently included an expanded test for heavy metals.

Thompson highlighted Michigan’s history for throwing cannabis-themed parties and festivals, and he expects to see more of those this year.

Those consumption-heavy events could strain the supply of flower even further, he added.

March 3

https://nbc25news.com/news/local/statewide-medical-marijuana-changes-could-affect-inventory-prices

“Patients who are used to seeing certain brand names on the shelves of their favorite retail store, may see those brand names disappear,” said Rick Thompson; NORML Michigan.

Thompson says starting Sunday, Michigan caregivers will only be able to provide dried marijuana flower that ends up on the shelves of dispensaries.

He says they won’t however be able to contribute the processed products like vaping cartridges, THC oil or edibles for example.

Thompson says it’s a way the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) can ween out caregivers so processors and cultivators have a greater percentage of the market share.

With fewer places to get products, Thompson believes it could create product shortages and a temporary boost in prices.

“However, over time that supply will increase and then the prices will normalize again,” Thompson stated.

March 11

https://www.freep.com/story/news/marijuana/2020/03/11/hash-bash-2020-ann-arbor-postponed/5020821002/

Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said Hash Bash was based on a health and wellness philosophy when it started 49 years ago and a possible postponement is an extension of those values…

Defiance, however, has turned to caution, both inside and outside of the cannabis community, Thompson said, with the news that Michigan has found two positive cases of the coronavirus.

“A lot of Americans are skeptical of the COVID-19 threat and its potential for danger. Look at Cochella and South by Southwest (big, outdoor concerts in California and Texas that have been postponed),” Thompson said. “But more people are worried about it than not worried.”

April

April 2

https://www.freep.com/story/news/marijuana/2020/04/02/hash-bash-2020-ann-arbor/5111420002/

“One of the best things about Hash Bash is the sense of community that you get when you’re surrounded by thousands of people who think the way you do,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of NORML. “And that’s just not practical now.”

Even the hardest core marijuana activists, who early on had insisted that they’d be on the Diag on Saturday no matter what and damn the stay-at-home order, have come around.

“Whenever you’re presented with a radical change, people do a lot of tough talking, but since that time the situation has grown a lot more serious,” Thompson said. “I lost my father in December to cancer and I still have one parent left and I jealously guard her. We really have to take extra precautions, especially for those who are in the vulnerable community.”

“Our industry is adapting quite nicely,” Thompson said.

April 29

https://mjbizdaily.com/michigan-wholesale-medical-marijuana-prices-fall-caregiver-product/

Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group in Flint, said two years ago the state’s medical marijuana was sourced almost exclusively from MMJ caregivers and sold for as low as $2,000 a pound.

As caregiver marijuana was gradually phased out and commercially cultivated cannabis was introduced into the regulated system, the price spiked to as high as $5,000 for premium flower, according to Thompson…

“We have entered the time where (medical) supply is beginning to outstrip demand, and prices are falling,” Thompson said.

“When isolation protocols are lifted, the cannabis industry will be the first in the state to recover from the crisis.”

He believes the upward trend in sales and production the industry experienced before the coronavirus crisis will resume.

“When demand for (medical) commercial cannabis ramps back up, wholesale flower pricing will rebound somewhat, but the industry will not see pricing averages of $4,000 pound or higher ever again,” Thompson added.

May

May 12

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/2020/05/12/covid-19-fails-stop-pot-industry-sales-explode-during-pandemic/3117649001/

“It’s fair to say that during any crisis people use intoxicants more than normal,” said Rick Thompson, owner of Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group. But he argued the increase in sales was also a “testament to the strength of the industry.”

“Once social distancing is lifted and industry returns to normal, the recreational industry will rise like a cork from the bottom of a bathtub faster than any other industry would recover,” Thompson said.

July

July 17

https://mjbizdaily.com/michigan-social-equity-regulations-help-cannabis-applicants-get-started-but-lack-continued-support/

Rick Thompson, owner of the Flint-based Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, said the lack of social equity support is his “single greatest disappointment with the Michigan cannabis industry.”

“Social equity is the great unfulfilled promise of America’s cannabis revolution,” he added.

Thompson would like to see social equity applicants receive assistance in several ways, including:

  • A break on real estate via a land bank.
  • Payroll or accounting services provided to the applicants.
  • Human resources and employment services.
  • Free executive leadership training through a partnership with an established business to guide these new owners.

“What we’re talking about with social equity is leveling the playing field,” Thompson added.

He’d also like to see a state-based program that offers loans for these applicants to provide access to capital.

July 18

https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2020/07/ypsilanti-based-oz-cannabis-kicks-off-recreational-sales-with-darren-mccarty.html

Several marijuana activists were at the event, including former Detroit Red Wings Darren McCarty, who signed autographs throughout the afternoon, Mr. Hash Bash Adam Brook, Rick Thompson and customers from Ohio and West Virginia.

Thompson has constantly fought for changes in the legislature to eliminate marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which includes heroin, ecstasy and LSD, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“The rest of the job we have to finish off is expungement of people, correcting our federal scheduling or Schedule One,” Thompson said. “One of the reasons we’re having so many problems with social justice reform right now is because people don’t trust the government.”

October

October 28

Potshots: November 2020

https://revuewm.com/cannabis/item/4899-potshots-november-2020

Elsewhere in the state, though, some cannabis advocates mourned the phase-out of medical marijuana caregivers’ ability to supply the retail market. Though the Marijuana Regulatory Agency had planned the transition for months and claims licensed growers will produce adequate supplies, some of those involved in the early years of cannabis advocacy more than a decade ago noted the incredible value that caregivers have played for both the medical and recreational markets. As Rick Thompson, publisher of the Michigan Cannabis Industries Report and longtime advocate, put it on social media: “Today is the end of something special and the beginning of unremarkable dysfunction.”

November

November 5

https://www.mlive.com/politics/2020/11/marijuana-wins-elections-across-michigan-us-as-legalization-expands.html

“We saw record participation in last night’s general election, and cannabis continues to be popular among Americans and Michiganders,” said Rick Thompson, a Michigan marijuana advocate and publisher of the Michigan Cannabis Industries Report.

Still, more than 1,400 of Michigan’s 1,733 cities, townships and villages have prohibited recreational marijuana businesses.

Thomson said legalization efforts across the state and nation are “consistently” succeeding, which he believes will soften the reluctance of many Michigan communities to join the state’s new recreational marijuana industry.

December

December 22

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/oakland/2020/12/22/michigan-pot-processors-explosions-butane/4003816001/

The process of using butane to extract marijuana’s intoxicating component, called THC, aims to “get rid of the plant stuff and just keep the good chemicals,” said Rick Thompson, a marijuana podcaster and CEO of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, which stages marijuana business conferences.

The butane acts as a solvent, dissolving THC from cannabis leaves, stems and buds to form a concentrated oil, after which the poisonous butane must be allowed to escape, Thompson said.

“Sometimes, people try to rush that process and that’s when explosions happen,” he said. Butane is an odorless, colorless gas that is heavier than air, so as it bubbles out of the concentrated cannabis oil, it can build up on the floor of an enclosed space, creating an explosion hazard that awaits only a small spark, Thompson said.

“If butane gas hits a hot-water tank, it can fire up” from the tank’s pilot flame, he said. Some processors put their freshly extracted oil into freezers to accelerate the off-gassing of the butane.

“When you open the freezer door and activate the light bulb inside the freezer, you can cause an explosion, just from the freezer light coming on — that little spark,” Thompson said.