In The News – 2021

September 9, 2021

February

Feb. 3

https://www.leafly.com/news/industry/michigan-cannabis-sales-are-down-and-the-reason-may-be-in-your-neighbors-backyard

MINORML and MILegalize board member Rick Thompson blames the “unregulated market” for undercutting sales in state-licensed cannabis stores and dispensaries. He focuses not on out-of-state suppliers but on Michigan-based caregivers who were shut down by the state during the pivot to legal regulation.

“They [the caregivers] had ramped up production to a commercial level,” Thompson says, “and were moving product with the full blessing of the law, and suddenly the agency turned it off. So we had all these people who were used to growing cannabis. Do you think they just stopped? I don’t.”

Feb. 5

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/dozens-of-cannabis-retailers-reveal-social-equity-plans-but-not-in-lansing,15552

Rick Thompson, publisher of the Michigan Cannabis Industries Report, said it’s not uncommon for companies to want to keep their “internal business mechanics” out of the public eye. But in this case, cannabis retailers with ideas to bolster racial equity shouldn’t be afraid to share them.

“This could also be indication their social equity program is weak and they’re hiding it,” he said.

Feb. 13

https://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.”

Feb. 14

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/advocates-call-for-clemency-for-inmates-serving-time-for-marijuana-offenses,15603

“The goal is to change the rules and regulations regarding clemency, to make it easier for us to accomplish that,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of Michigan NORML, the state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He isn’t related to Michael Thompson.

“It is a national embarrassment that we have people making millions of dollars, and people suffering in prisons, for doing the exact same thing,” said Rick Thompson.

March

March 8

March 11

https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2021/03/michigan-to-use-20m-in-marijuana-tax-revenue-on-medical-research-after-all.html

“We wanted to stimulate the scientific community with an influx of cash in order to help people that we recognize really did need some assistance they weren’t receiving,”said Rick Thompson, a board member with the Michigan National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the group that advocated for recreational marijuana legalization and the studies.

The initial indication that he research money wasn’t there worried some, including Dr. Sue Sisley, a former Michigan resident who’s currently running marijuana and psilocybin trials at the Scottsdale Research Institute in Arizona with the goal of obtaining FDA approval for the medical use of smokable marijuana.

While the majority of U.S. states have some form of medical marijuana program, the federal government contradictorily still labels marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, the definition of which states there is “no currently accepted medical use.” The U.S. House in December passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, which, if approved by the Senate and signed by the president, would remove the Schedule 1 limitations.

After hearing Michigan’s clinical money is expected to be distributed this year, Sisley said some of her concerns over the issue have been alleviated.

Thompson said the law was crafted with Sisley’s trials in mind. The specific language of the law says the money should go to “a non-profit organization or researcher within an academic institution researching the efficacy of marihuana in treating the medical conditions of U.S. armed services veterans and preventing veteran suicide.”

“We told them exactly where the money was supposed to go,” Thompson said. “I was completely surprised to learn they had distributed the monies to cities, but not allocated the monies to research programs.”

Despite stated plans to move forward with issuing the trial money, Thompson said it’s an “unsatisfactory answer.”

“It’s been known that this allocation was required for about two years and they’ve had plenty of time to get it done,” he said.

March 12

https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2021/03/flushing-township-board-sends-proposed-medical-marijuana-ordinance-back-to-planning-commission.html

“You’ve opted the worst possible scenario, to make large changes to a number of fronts,” said Rick Thompson, a Flint Township resident and medical marijuana advocate. “Rethink this, table the motion, don’t even send it to planning and zoning, sit on it, do nothing, and let someone else go first.”

April

https://gaana.com/song/rick-thompson-has-been-the-face-of-michigan-cannabis-advocacy-for-years-now-on-in-the-weeds-live

Full live on LinkedIn episode In The Weeds

May

May 6

But Michigan cannabis advocate Rick Thompson (co-host of Four20 Post produced by the Michigan Marijuana Report) said in response to Linder’s testimony that Delta-8 has two pathways in Michigan:

“One pathway leads to prohibition; one pathway leads to regulation. I support the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association in their effort to enact wise regulation of this emerging cannabinoid,” Thompson said. “Other states have adopted total bans, but we don’t need to walk backwards into prohibition. Cannabis and all products made from it are legal at this moment, and all of our efforts should be to support that.”

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/corporate-cannabis-companies-lobby-for-caregiver-crackdown-in-michigan,17213

Many pot activists, however, would prefer to keep the status quo and have argued that there is very little evidence to suggest that untested caregiver-grown marijuana creates any sort of public health risk. Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, labeled any changes as “unnecessary” and has promoted the recent boycott online.

Thompson is also a patient who primarily receives his medicine through a medical caregiver.

“You have to appreciate that Linder has been a real problem for the cannabis industry for years,” Thompson said. “The consistent message from him and the MCMA has been to put all cannabis sales under regulation. They want more sales to go through their stores. They’re advocating to essentially change the way that caregivers are able to operate, to the degree to which most of us believe would fundamentally change the program and make it nonfunctional.”

“They’re conflating caregivers with the black market. I think it’s apples and oranges,” Thompson said. “Laws already exist that make that activity illegal and if local law enforcement officers choose not to enforce that law, that’s on them. This isn’t the legislature’s responsibility. The fact is, they’re trying to use a tool that is inappropriate for the task that they’re trying to set forth.”

He added: “Even still, why would we care about the small segment of society that is still doing things in a bad way? We don’t need to ramp up the war on drugs. Nobody should be in jail for a plant. The system that we’re operating in right now works pretty damn fine without change.”

The trade group may stand down, but their plans aren’t going away, Thompson explained.

“I don’t believe Steve Linder will stop,” he said. “I think he’s going to try to get this in place. Maybe not this year. It may drop in 2022, making it an election issue. This isn’t going away.”

May 14

https://www.greenmarketreport.com/weed-talk-news-may-14-2021/

May 28

Corporate cannabis companies lobby for caregiver crackdown in Michigan

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/corporate-cannabis-companies-lobby-for-caregiver-crackdown-in-michigan,17213

Many pot activists, however, would prefer to keep the status quo and have argued that there is very little evidence to suggest that untested caregiver-grown marijuana creates any sort of public health risk. Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, labeled any changes as “unnecessary” and has promoted the recent boycott online.

Thompson is also a patient who primarily receives his medicine through a medical caregiver.

“You have to appreciate that Linder has been a real problem for the cannabis industry for years,” Thompson said. “The consistent message from him and the MCMA has been to put all cannabis sales under regulation. They want more sales to go through their stores. They’re advocating to essentially change the way that caregivers are able to operate, to the degree to which most of us believe would fundamentally change the program and make it nonfunctional.”

Forcing caregivers to shoulder the added burden of product testing — which can cost thousands of dollars per harvest — threatens the financial viability of the caregiver model, Thompson said. And with only 13 licensed safety compliance facilities statewide for all 30,000 caregivers and none located in the Upper Peninsula, availability for testing could also become an issue.

He added: “Our position is that the caregiver system works just fine the way it is. There’s no reason to make any changes to the way things are being done. At this point, there’s no compelling reason to make changes — except for the profit margin of those MCMA companies. It’s a nonfunctional suggestion that comes from the greedy, black heart of the MCMA.”

The trade group may stand down, but their plans aren’t going away, Thompson explained.

“I don’t believe Steve Linder will stop,” he said. “I think he’s going to try to get this in place. Maybe not this year. It may drop in 2022, making it an election issue. This isn’t going away.”

June

June 9

Four20 Post is moderated by Michigan Marijuana Report Editor Mike Brennan. Co-hosts are Rick Thompson, co-host of Jazz Cabbage Cafe, and Jamie Cooper, who manages Sensi Connects.

June 14

MCMA Discussion with Jamie Lowell & Rick Thompson

Episode 88 of MiCannaCast, Cannadave & Groovee have Special guests Jamie Lowell & Rick Thompson of the Jazz Cabbage Cafe. They’re on to discuss the big news happening in the Michigan Cannabis industry. How & Why the MCMA is trying to ruin caregivers, patients, microbusiness, and more. The MCMA has been on most people’s minds since the news came out last month on out Steve Linder wants to do. You can check out our video interview here

The MCMA

Jamie Lowell & Rick Thompson are two OGs in the cannabis industry here in Michigan to discuss the MCMA. Huge advocates in the scene here and have helped the industry grow by fighting & crafting legislation that was passed in the state. To have them on and discuss this topic with us was a huge honor. Jamie & Rick breakdown the MCMA proposal by Steve Linder and what it means for everyone.

June 18

Plus State reports from Coast to coast including a new California report from The self-proclaimed “Canna Bitch” Jackie Byrant. Michigan with Rick Thompson, Vermont with Jessilyn Dolan, Illinois with Margo Vesely, The DC Report with Phil Adams from Vote Pro Pot Cast and The Green Market Report’s Debra Borchardt with the latest IPO from a major cannabis brand, Weedmaps.

June 29

https://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/michigans-cannabis-industry-tops-32-billion-in-2020-study-finds-but-most-sales-are-still-off-the-books/Content?oid=27495676

Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, told the paper that the crackdown is simply corporate greed.

“Our position is that the caregiver system works just fine the way it is,” he said. “There’s no reason to make any changes to the way things are being done. At this point, there’s no compelling reason to make changes — except for the profit margin of those MCMA companies. It’s a nonfunctional suggestion that comes from the greedy, black heart of the MCMA.”

June 30

If you are in the Michigan cannabis industry, or want to be, you’re going to want to watch this video interview. Director Brisbo is interviewed by Mike Brennan from Michigan Marijuana Report, Jamie Cooper from Sensi Connects, Rick Thompson from TheSocialRevolution and Dan Sparrow from Sparrow Consulting.

July

July 8

If you are in the Michigan cannabis industry, or want to be, you’re going to want to watch this video interview. Director Brisbo is interviewed by Mike Brennan from Michigan Marijuana Report, Jamie Cooper from Sensi Connects, Rick Thompson from TheSocialRevolution and Dan Sparrow from Sparrow Consulting.

July 8

https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/545757179/caregiver-rights-rally-on-capitol-building-steps-scheduled-for-september-15

Press release for the Sept. 15 rally: More than 250 companies have taken an online pledge to support #NOCHANGES to Michigan’s caregiver laws, including licensed cannabis companies, ancillary industries, unregulated cannabis entities and non-cannabis corporations. 

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/hundreds-of-cannabis-brands-defend-caregivers-in-michigan,17531

Rick Thompson, who owns the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, said forcing caregivers into product testing — which can cost thousands per harvest — only threatens the financial viability of the caregiver model. And with only 17 licensed safety labs statewide for all 30,000 caregivers and none in the Upper Peninsula, accessibility would be an issue, he said.

August

August 7

https://www.celebstoner.com/reviews/books-and-media/2021/01/07/best-marijuana-themed-podcasts/

Jamie Lowell and Rick Thompson (hosts); based in Detroit; Tuesdays, 4-6 pm ET

August 26

https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/549778111/norml-of-michigan-elects-new-board-of-directors

Press release announcing the new Board of Directors for NORML of Michigan

August 31

https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2021/08/more-marijuana-licensing-options-lower-fees-in-the-works.html

“So the class A microbusiness can double the cultivation output while also selling any other regulated supplier’s non-flower products,” said Rick Thompson, the new executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in Michigan. “This is huge. It makes the existing microbusiness license undesirable and obsolete.”

August 30

Michigan NORML’s new director is all about protecting the caregiver system

https://grownin.com/2021/08/30/michigan-normls-new-director-is-all-about-protecting-the-caregiver-system/

September

According to Michigan NORML executive director Rick Thompson:

“[The] class A micro business can double the cultivation output while also selling any other regulated supplier’s non-flower products. This is huge. It makes the existing micro business license undesirable and obsolete.” — Thompson, via M-Live

September 14

https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2021/09/grow-limits-for-marijuana-caregivers-would-be-reduced-under-michigan-legislation.html

“There should be no changes to the current caregiver plant allowance, regardless of the addition of the specialty grower license type,” said Rick Thompson, a caregiver supporter and director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Michigan chapter.

Thompson called the proposed legislation a “smoke-and-mirrors game” with the intent of reducing the number of caregivers while hiding behind claims of improved consumer safety.

September 14

The public backlash prompted MCMA to remove contact information and individual members from the website and elect a new board chair to help with public relations, said Rick Thompson, executive director of Michigan NORML.

Thompson has promoted the recent boycott online and believes Linder and MCMA are coming after caregivers’ and residents’ cultivation rights.

“He’s been a problem for the cannabis industry for a while,” Thompson said. “They’ve talked about slimming the market for quite some time, meaning less competition to their businesses and fewer licenses issued, but it also means attacking the unregulated market and home cultivation by patients, caregivers and by every adult in Michigan over the age of 21.”

“If you don’t hear of people getting sick from caregiver cannabis, kids going to the hospital, then it’s not happening,” Thompson said. “We’ve had 12 years of caregiver cannabis; there is no danger or health hazard coming from caregiver cannabis.”

Thompson said state marijuana regulators haven’t expressed interest in changing the caregiver program. In an interview with Four20 Post, MRA Director Andrew Brisbo said the state doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to require mandatory product testing for 30,000 caregivers.

The state would have to expand capacity at its safety compliance laboratories or open more. There have been 17 marijuana regulatory licenses issued, but there are currently 13 testing facilities in the state that are open and serving the public, Thompson said.  

Caregivers, corporate grows can coexist

In July, Michigan’s cannabis market increased 56% from a year ago, boasting a record $171.1 million in revenue.  

“There is plenty of growth in the market,” Thompson said. “We don’t need to start making changes to some of the voter-directed initiatives we passed in Michigan.”

As for eliminating the “gray” or black market, activists and caregivers say that will never go away. Thompson said that anyone operating in the cannabis space is breaking federal law. He also noted that other states with caregiver programs have retracted the freedoms given to caregivers over time.

“When you create laws that are unworkable, you create criminality, and that’s why we need to have more input into the ways laws are crafted,” Thompson said. “They’re crafting laws that disadvantage people and that’s avoidable.”

Thompson disagrees and believes the fight to roll back rights for caregivers and home growers isn’t going to fizzle out.

“If I didn’t think it was a threat,” he said, “I wouldn’t be making such a big deal about it.”

also Marijuana Moment at: https://www.marijuanamoment.net/michigan-medical-marijuana-activists-push-back-against-alleged-corporate-effort-to-restrict-home-cultivation/

September 15

Rick Thompson, the owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, said cracking down on CBD products would be both physically impossible and politically unpopular.

“Imagine agents raiding Walmart because they have CBD water on their shelves,” Thompson said. “There should be no enforcement of bans on products that do not have a history of harm.”

He also remains optimistic for future growth: “I guarantee that those veterinarians who refuse to admit to a reporter that they recommend CBD for pets have many stories of pet owners having success with CBD products. As time goes on and their customers demand information, vets will learn more, will drop their hesitancy and will become believers in the benefits of CBD for pets.”

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/local-pot-shops-turn-to-grey-market-of-cbd-for-pets,18195

September 15

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2021/09/15/capitol-protesters-slam-bills-curbing-michigan-marijuana-caregivers/8350728002/

“There are 30,000 caregivers in Michigan, and they service about 72,000 patients,” said Rick Thompson, a cannabis advocate and executive director for Michigan NORML. “If you take a lot of people away from those caregivers, that’s going to push a lot of people into the regulated market.”

Thompson argued caregivers wouldn’t be able to comply with testing, tracking or labeling requirements currently required of businesses with much more capital than a small care-giving service. The application alone would cost $500 and a license would only last a year. 

The legislation also would prohibit the use of flammable solvents in creating cannabis concentrates, a practice that is largely commonplace, Thompson said. And it allows the Marijuana Regulatory Agency to disclose the addresses of primary caregivers or licensed specialty medical grower to law enforcement. 

September 15

https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2021/09/were-in-for-the-patients-marijuana-caregivers-rally-against-bills-that-would-curb-access.html

“The black market preexisted the caregiver market,” said Rick Thompson, a longtime cannabis activist and director of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “Remember: there’s only 30,000 caregivers in Michigan, but we know there’s way more people than that selling cannabis to people in the unlicensed market.

“The unregulated market is a preexisting market situation that these people should have accommodated and accounted for when they did their business plans. If they find now that they can’t compete with a market that really hasn’t changed since they started, then they had a bad business model. They need to change the way they operate, not the world around them.”

The Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, in its efforts to lobby lawmakers, solicited a study of Michigan’s black market that was estimated to account for nearly $3.2 billion in marijuana sales in 2020, nearly 2/3 of all sales.

If the people responsible for that huge chunk of unlicensed sales are caregivers, Thompson says, “prove it.”

“The greatest lie detector ever invented by man, created by man, is your public, cellular telephone: look it up,” he said. “Does MLive have stories about caregivers behaving badly? No. Do they have stories about caregivers selling cannabis to kids? No. Do they have stories about caregivers being detrimental to their communities? No.

“I say to those people who want to point fingers at caregivers and blame them for all the ills of society, prove it. The burden is on them.”

September 16

https://upnorthlive.com/news/local/medical-marijuana-caregivers-protest-legislation-in-lansing

“If they reduce the caregiver numbers by 80%, as they have proposed, there could be 30, 40, 50,000 people who are all of a sudden out of a supply for their cannabis,” said Rick Thompson, Board Member of Michigan NORML.

The protestors said the legislation would make Michigan pot users more dependent on big cannabis companies.

September 17

https://www.michiganradio.org/politics-government/2021-09-17/michigan-lawmakers-considering-controversial-changes-to-medical-marijuana-rules

Cannabis advocate Rick Thompson worries this change would force thousands of medical marijuana patients to turn to the retail market.

“You disadvantage patients by making them pay more for their medicine and giving them an avenue of purchase that doesn’t provide feedback so that they can adjust the cannabis that’s grown to meet their particular health needs,” says Thompson.

Backers say the legislation will rein in Michigan’s unlicensed marijuana market and improve product safety.

Detractors counter the bills are intended to help large marijuana companies.

September 17

https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2021/09/poll-echoes-lobbyist-groups-desire-to-change-michigan-medical-marijuana-law.html

“The report draws conclusions based on numerical data they chose not to share,” said Rick Thompson, a caregiver supporter and director of the Michigan National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) chapter. “This isn’t the way reliable polling results are typically presented. The report’s selective release of data exposes this as a public relations action, not a scientific study.”

Thompson argues the MCMA insinuation that caregivers are responsible for the enormous black market is wrong.

“The MCMA would like you to believe there are only two types of commerce in Michigan: the regulated market and everything else,” he said. “It’s far more complicated than that. Sales of cannabis between caregivers and their patients are legally sanctified in law, yet the MCMA chose to lump those legal sales in with unregulated activity in order to drive home their point.

“That should tell you everything you need to know about the integrity of this misinformation campaign.”

September 21

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/whats-all-the-fuss-about-caregiver-cannabis-in-michigan,18265

Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, said the bills were instead motivated by greedy corporate cannabis brands who would rather not have the competition from caregivers.

September 24

https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2021/09/prospect-of-federal-marijuana-legalization-doesnt-have-everyone-in-michigan-industry-jumping-for-joy.html

also: https://mitechnews.com/news/federal-marijuana-legalization-doesnt-have-everyone-in-michigan-cannabis-happy/

“Opening up interstate commerce would destroy Michigan’s cannabis industry and leave us with nothing but multi-state operators to purchase from,” said Rick Thompson, a Michigan cannabis pioneer and director of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Thompson said everyone he knows “stands in opposition to at least some of the” current version of the proposed federal legalization plan…

One stated goal of federal legalization is to combat the black market, but new taxes could encourage the illicit market.

If significant new federal taxes are imposed, “the black market will have a party like you have never seen before,” Thompson said. “It was nearly impossible to eliminate illegal cannabis sales when there was no tax; it is impossible to eliminate unlicensed sales with a 10% tax rate; and if the tax climbs to 35% or higher, the regulated market will shrink rapidly as people return to their unlicensed cannabis sources forever.”

Thompson, of NORML, a supporter of Michigan’s current laws that allow caregiver and personal home grows, didn’t weigh in on whether he thinks they’ll go away, but anticipated what will happen if they do.

“Caregivers will fail to renew their registration, if federal laws are adopted, but they will not fail to continue to grow,” he said. “Eventually, government will have to realize that cannabis users will merely ignore laws that make no sense, disadvantage them or are created for the advantage of corporations, not citizens.”

September 28

BILLS WOULD ESSENTIALLY END MICHIGAN MARIJUANA CAREGIVERS, NORML HEAD SAYS

Bills Would Essentially End Michigan Marijuana Caregivers, NORML Head Says

The entire article is an interview with Rick Thompson

OCTOBER

October 5

Linder is the “primary driver of this legislation,” which is about “crafting a monopoly pure and simple,” said Rick Thompson,  a cannabis advocate and executive director for Michigan NORML. 

“This legislation would fundamentally change a program that’s been in existence for 12 years that is in no need for change,” Thompson said after the hearing. “It’s being driven by monopolists who have clear legislative allies, and what was clear during the hearing is much of what is being told these lawmakers is simply not true.

“The perception of all caregivers being detrimental to the community and therefore in need of correction was advanced by the MCMA without challenge by the legislators,” Thompson said. 

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2021/10/05/marijuana-licensing-bills-prompt-heated-debate-security-escort-lobbyist/6008797001/

October 6

But when Rick Thompson, executive director of the Michigan chapter of NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws), made a reference to “Evil Steve” in his testimony, Committee Chairman Roger Hauck gaveled him down and asked him to stick to the merits of the legislation.

“He called himself ‘Evil Steve,” Rep. Hauck, right?” continued Thompson, before he let his disgust for the “big bucks” that hired Linder, attorney Shelly Edgerton and the public relations team in the committee get the better of him.

“That was big dollars today that testified,” he said. “The two polls they conducted, too. That was big dollars. Plus, the dog and pony show that we saw here today … .”

https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/marijuana-lobbyist-becomes-focal-point-of-first-caregiver-legislation-hearing,18442

October 8

“There are regulations that are so difficult to understand that an average caregiver would not be able to meet those requirements,” said Rick Thompson, executive director of NORML of Michigan, in an interview before the hearing. “They want them to grow in a commercially zoned area, that’s the big expense, and locate their services away from where they have been successful in the past. That’s big money before they even get a single dollar back.”

Thompson also testified at Tuesday’s hearing, saying he is a patient who doesn’t grow so the law directly affects him.  

 Rep. Roger Hauck, Oct. 5, 2021 | Screenshot

“I’ve been doing this since 2010, coming to testify, and this is a shocking level of lack of knowledge on the part of the lawmakers in regards to caregivers, patients and the medical system itself,” Thompson said. 

At one point, Thompson was reprimanded by Committee Chair Roger Hauck (R-Union Twp.) to focus on the bill. Thompson said the proposed laws are punitive and there are already laws in place to address other issues related to large underground grows and local zoning ordinances. 

“The merits of the bill, there are none,” Thompson said. “The bill is terrible. The bill was not crafted in cooperation with caregivers; it was not crafted in a position of knowledge. It was crafted from a position of defense by the MCMA in order to protect their particular industry.”

Thompson said patients are loyal to caregivers. And caregivers have operated within a law that has worked for more than a decade, so lawmakers should expect resistance.

“The cannabis industry is born of lawlessness,” Thompson said. “We ignore rules that don’t make sense. Tell 30,000 caregivers they have to change and drop 80% of their cultivation, they are not going to do it, and then you turn innocent citizens into accidental criminals.” 

October 9

Michigan Marijuana: Everything You Need to Know

https://nstarfinance.com/michigan-marijuana-everything/

Rick Thompson, a caregiver supporter and the director of the NORML Michigan chapter is against the change.

“There should be no changes to the current caregiver plant allowance, regardless of the addition of the specialty grower license type,” said Thompson.

Thompson claims that the proposed legislation is a “smoke-and-mirrors game” that is working to lessen the number of caregivers while hiding behind claims that consumer safety is the priority.

October 13

Before the extended hearing concluded, Rick Thompson, a Michigan cannabis legalization pioneer and director of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), criticized the committee members for having a “shocking” lack of knowledge related to the caregiver and medical marijuana system.

“There is no way you are all in an educated state where you can be making decisions about what should or should not be changed here in the marijuana industry based on the questions we’ve had today,” he said.

Thompson felt an unequal amount of time was given to supporters of the proposed laws, rather than the large number of opponents in the crowd who requested to speak but were unable due to time limitations.

He said nearly 42,000 patients will lose their current caregivers under the new laws.

“These laws are punitive,” Thompson said. “They attack the ways caregivers actually produce medicine itself. They outlaw the methodology by which concentrates are made.”

Thompson then pointed to a baby being held by a woman in the gallery.

“Baby Anastasia. Look at her. Right over there,” he said. “Baby Anastasia relies on those concentrates crafted by caregivers in order to stop her seizures.

“You won’t hear from her today because you spent an hour and 45 minutes listening to government employees and a public relations team.”

The committee chair banged his gavel.

“Your testimony is done. Thank you,” Hauck said. “I will let everybody be heard but I’m not going to sit up here and be lectured by someone.”

https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2021/10/police-escort-big-marijuana-lobbyist-from-contentious-hearing-on-michigan-caregiver-law.html

October 13

Changes to Michigan’s marijuana caregiver system proposed in Lansing

Rick Thompson is a former caregiver and Executive Director of NORML Michigan, an organization fighting this bill. He says limiting caregivers would have many negative impacts on medical patients.

“It would be much more difficult for patients to find the medicines they need and it would be much more expensive,” Thompson said. “That’s not a hypothetical, that’s a reality.”

But Thompson argues caregivers have been around since 2008 and are not the source of the problem, saying that limiting their operation does the opposite of making Michigan safer.

“Over the 12-year history of caregivers in Michigan, there’s no record of poor behavior of caregivers itself,” Thompson said. “There are some people who don’t adhere to the guidelines, but those are the fringe and we already have rules to accommodate the punishment of those particular people.”

https://www.wxyz.com/news/7-in-depth/changes-to-michigans-marijuana-caregiver-system-proposed-in-lansing

October 25

Pinconning Paralyzer: Part 1

October 27

In Michigan, Big Marijuana wants to crack down on caregivers who grow pot for patients at home

https://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/in-michigan-big-marijuana-wants-to-take-out-caregivers-who-grow-pot-for-patients-at-home/Content?oid=28379275

“Nobody knows how many businesses belong to the MCMA,” says Rick Thompson, executive director of MiNORML. “They scrubbed their website of the names of all member companies and guarded the member list like Fort Knox. That creates a greater image of dark money.”

November

November 21

Michigan NORML Executive Director Rick Thompson joins MITech TV to introduce himself to the Michigan business audience and outline some of the Cannabis advocacy group’s top legislative priorities.

None is higher than an attempt by large vertically integrated cannabis companies in Michigan to restrict Medical caregivers’ ability to provide cannabis-enhanced products to patients with physical and mental disabilities.

November 22

$200 million marijuana recall causes chaos in Michigan’s marijuana industry

https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2021/11/200-million-marijuana-recall-causes-chaos-in-michigans-marijuana-industry.html

“We may not know the long-term effects for thee, six or even 12 months, as some companies struggle to recoup their losses and eventually succumb to market forces,” said Rick Thompson, a Michigan cannabis legalization pioneer and director of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “I know that all companies are required to carry insurance for just such emergencies. Hopefully, all of the players will be made whole by insurance payments so that no one loses their businesses. I am, however, skeptical that will happen.”

Thompson said the recall raises questions about the effectiveness of the state’s safety system.

“Clearly, this was a problem for three months — possibly even longer — and it was undetected until, apparently, some kind of report from someone triggered their attention,” Thompson said. “I’m curious to know how this major error slides past their notice for so long.”

November 22

1000 Turkey Giveaway – Rick Thompson From MINORML Explains

Rick Thompson, Executive Director of Michigan NORML, was on hand Saturday for the 1000 Turkey Giveaway in Flint at the LightnUp Provisioning Center.

The event was co-sponsored by NORML and Heroprojectusa.Org, a non-profit that works with the cannabis and hemp communities to provide funding to Veteran Service Organizations. Hero works through the Canna Social Equity Fund.

December

December 2

Mich. cannabis testing laboratory goes to court to recall recall

Rick Thompson, executive director of Michigan NORML brushed off Viridis’ comments, saying that whenever someone finds themselves penalized by government, they immediately say, government is picking on them. 

“I think the lawsuit Viridis filed against the regulatory agency itself, gives us a lot of clues as to how flimsy their case is,” Thompson told Grown In Tuesday evening. “They make a lot of suppositions and claims the MRA has personally been attacking them for months and months. It seems unsubstantiated.”

The retaliation, Thompson said, was from Viridis.

“Without any hard evidence against this, emails saying let’s go get these guys, it’s impossible to prove any of this in court,” Thompson. I think if you look at how quickly after the charges came out that this lawsuit was filed, you see that it’s a defensive, retaliatory move.”

Michigan NORML leader Thompson claims it’s not surprising the Chamber would come down on the side of business rather than on the side of government.

“But if you look at all the agencies that support patients and consumer groups, I think you’ll find that we’re in favor of the recall out of the safety of public welfare,” Thompson said. “When you look at the lawsuit, it clearly shows there were 6 out of 8 tests that were redone by other labs that failed over microbial contamination. That, in itself, is enough to warrant a recall.”

December 30

Michigan’s marijuana industry could see regulatory changes in 2022

https://www.michiganradio.org/news/2021-12-30/michigans-marijuana-industry-could-see-regulatory-changes-in-2022

Rick Thompson is the executive director of the Michigan chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). Despite the slow legislative progress, he expects caregivers still face a fight.

“There’s been too much money put into crafting and promoting these bills for their advocates to just give up the ghost so quickly,” says Thompson.

Thompson expects 2022 will see less growth in Michigan’s marijuana industry with fewer new cities and towns likely to open their markets to new cannabis related businesses.