In The News – 2023

April 15, 2023

Read some of Rick’s more quotable media statements from the year 2010

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Fewer caregivers equate to fewer patients, and the sharp decline in caregivers in recent months can be directly attributed to declining market prices, says Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group and executive director for Michigan NORML.

In Michigan, registered caregivers can grow up to 12 cannabis plants and purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces for each registered qualifying patient with whom he or she is connected through the state’s medical program, according to the CRA.

“The caregiver numbers are declining because the price of cannabis has gotten so inexpensive at the retail marketplace [that] it’s now cheaper to actually purchase cannabis than it is to cultivate it and grow it yourself,” he says. “So, people that were utilizing the privilege of growing in order to save their patients money are no longer doing that; it’s not advantageous.”

Despite those trends, Thompson says there will always be a need for a medical cannabis industry in the state, especially for patients under the age of 21 who cannot access the adult-use market. “A medical card is the only way for them to access the life-saving medicine,” he says. Still, the services provided to patients and caregivers by retailers and by others will be reduced and may, in some cases, go away, he says.

“You have sick children that are coming out of their pediatric stage and want to get into the adult-use market, but they may not have this medical support that they need,” Thompson says. “They may not have those specialized strains that only medical producers create that are not necessarily financially viable for a commercial cultivation operation but might be incredibly important for a particular person’s significant illness. So, I see a lessening, a worsening of the compassion level in this state as the medical program goes down.”

January 19

While overall figures are up, medical cannabis sales declined nearly 47% from 2021. That shrinking market segment is tied to falling retail prices: Fewer caregivers are growing their own cannabis because doing so no longer saves money for their patients, Rick Thompson, owner of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group and executive director for Michigan NORML, recently told CBT.

Michigan’s medical cannabis program lost 9,222 primary caregivers and 57,878 qualified patients in 2022, according to CRA.


February 1

Rick Thompson, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Michigan, said he believes the licensing board selected winners and losers instead of allowing market forces to dictate. The board passed over some people with backgrounds as medical marijuana caregivers under the state’s past policies, which were rewritten by lawmakers in 2016, Thompson said.

“That shaped the first wave of millionaires in the industry,” Thompson said of the board’s decisions.

February 3

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, seeks to protect access for cannabis consumers, said Rick Thompson, the Michigan’s chapter executive director. 

Following approval of the 2008 medical cannabis proposal, Thompson said public support for marijuana businesses has been uneven across Michigan.

“We do see suburban areas, for example, those areas outside of Grand Rapids and those areas outside of Detroit, that have been more eager to accept cannabis businesses than sometimes their rural counterparts,” Thompson said. 

“However, it’s very surprising the number of communities in what you’d normally consider to be conservative zones, which have come on board to accept cannabis retailers, cultivation centers and other businesses,” he said.

Localities that legalize sales can impose restrictions, such as limiting the number of licenses and setting zoning requirements. 

Thompson said more northern communities are allowing sales including the village of Kalkaska, Alpena and Traverse City. 

“Although it’s frustrating to many cannabis consumers and corporations, I support local approval of cannabis businesses, and Michigan NORML does as well,” Thompson said. “That’s how this whole 2018 ballot proposal was sold to voters.”

As for the industry’s future, Thompson predicted some businesses will fail in the next two years as retail prices drop, but said he believes additional communities will gradually allow cannabis businesses.



March 22

The industry is likely breathing slightly easier seeing the prices rise, but it depends on whether you’re a target of increased regulatory scrutiny, said Rick Thompson, executive director of Michigan NORML, the local advocacy group of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“The temporary price hike is partly a response to enforcement,” Thompson said. “After the CRA raided (TAS Asset Holdings) and exposed their use of illegal distillate, everyone got scared and tightened down their ship.”


March 28

Secrecy surrounding officeholders’ fundraising, an industry set to boom and a government willing to look the other way created a “perfect storm for chaos,” said Rick Thompson, board member for the Michigan affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“This is just emblematic of Michigan’s slipshod regulatory scheme when it comes to influence peddling,” Thompson said.


April 1

The cloudy skies and rainy weather didn’t prevent thousands of marijuana lovers from gathering in Ann Arbor on Saturday to light a few joints and listen to activists speak about a variety of cannabis topics.

The annual event took place at the Diag on the University of Michigan campus with countless vendors, musicians and speakers including marijuana activists Matthew Abel, Tim Beck, Chuck Ream and Rick Thompson.