Visit our Website for more content:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Well, it's officially on.

After years of struggle, beginning with Michigan's own John Sinclair in the late 1960's; a dead serious, well funded, sophisticated ballot initiative to finally legalize cannabis in the Great Lakes State has taken off. The effort was born with a bang, not a whimper.

     The "Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol" (CRMLA) is spearheaded by the famous "Marijuana Policy Project" (MPP). Based in Washington DC, MPP's money and expertise legalized medical marijuana in Michigan in 2008. It is directly responsible for cannabis legalization in Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Maine and Nevada. As a result, heavy money and political muscle (hired and other wise) is being brought to bear, to end cannabis prohibition once and for all in this state.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

To Waste or Not to Waste - by Rebecca Veenstra

   In the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills.

     Statistics like that are disturbing all by themselves. When you pair that statistic with the number of hungry people in the U.S. and around the world it becomes even more upsetting. It is true that we should be more responsible with how we allocate food resources. Globally, there are enough resources to ensure that people don’t starve. However, the powers that be use different statistics to further their own causes instead of meeting the needs of the people.

     So, if we can’t personally end world hunger—if the US continues to waste food resources at such astronomical levels—is there another way to turn these lemons into lemonade?

     Well, in order to see the big picture let’s consider for a minute the amount of chemical fertilizers applied agriculturally in the United States.

     In the United States in 2014 according to world bank statistics approximately 745 lbs. of chemical fertilizer were applied per acre of usable land. North America produces and sells more fertilizer than any country in the world. North America is also the world’s second largest consumer of fertilizer.

     Ok, so we have all this food waste, and we are one of the world’s leaders in the use of chemical applications to our farmlands. How can we take these two statistics and use them to overcome our dependence on chemical fertilizers and make good use of the astronomical amount of food we waste every year? Perhaps if we took another approach we could revitalize our farmlands and make good use of the extraordinary amount of foods wasted in our country.

     In 2010, World Foods Markets took a new approach to this issue that I think we could all learn from. The stores capture out-of-date food from each of the departments, as well as from its administrative and customer service areas, and place it into a compost container located at the rear of the store. Waste Management collects the container and takes it to a site…where it is mixed with yard wastes and, over a six-month period, converted into compost. These stores recovered and re-purposed more than 1,100 tons of food wastes in the first year the program was implemented.

     Just think if every store in the country took the time to separate out compostable items from their daily waste? If one business can re-purpose over a thousand tons of waste per year, the amount of waste we could re-purpose nationally is potentially staggering. If we could apply the resulting compost to our farmlands the impact could be revolutionary to our nation’s depleted soils.

     Another use for compost was discovered by a company called Filtrexx out of Ohio. They developed the compost sock which is a tube filled with compost that can be used to protect waterways from pollution. The compost tubes filter water from storm water runoff and construction sites by capturing pollutants that would otherwise contaminate our waterways. These compost tubes work much more effectively than the industry standard silt fences that we are accustomed to seeing.

     How brilliant is that? The compost socks can also be used in agricultural applications. Plants can be planted directly into the tubes removing the need to till the soil. They can be used in greenhouses as well as farmlands. The plants root directly through the tube into the ground allowing for weed-free, chemical free cultivation.

     So, what does this have to do with cannabis and Michiganders? Well, for starters we are all contributors to this food waste problem. Statistics say we all throw out twenty pounds of food per month, and a lot of Michiganders use chemical fertilizers. Additionally, our new marijuana laws are written in a such a manner as to promote large scale cannabis cultivation that unfortunately could likely lead to large scale chemical fertilizer use.

   What if we initiate more conscientious methods in our own homes and demand that the inevitable new big marijuana farms do the same?

     According to the statistics there is plenty of food waste to accomplish this. If we insist the businesses we frequent re-purpose food wastes and if we refuse to accept chemically produced cannabis in our marketplace we could potentially create a new movement that will not in any way reduce business revenue, which is ultimately the deciding factor in the long run.

     People are all abuzz about these new laws and the potential for money making off cannabis in our State. There is a lot of talk about the “side-businesses” that will rise up to coincide with Marijuana commerce like marketing and grow supplies.

     Wouldn’t it be revolutionary to see Michigan develop large scale composting systems to provide all of Michigan’s farmers of cannabis and other agricultural products with healthy grow mediums and fertilizers that will enhance the health of our foods and herbs as well as livestock and farmland. We could use compost to protect our waterways in both agricultural and urban applications. Even hydroponic cultivators can use compost based products.

     I am sure there are plenty of people out there to argue that chemicals are easier and less work. I am sure plenty of people would say it’s easier to throw things out than to take the time to re-purpose them. I am sure that in the long run probably those people will win their way unless we stand up for ourselves and take the initiative to begin the movement at home. Insist on organic cannabis. Insist businesses in your community re-purpose their compostable waste.

     The ultimate outcome will be that people with dollar signs in their eyes will embrace the movement in order to profit. We will see large scale compost operations in our State that will provide jobs and healthy grow mediums to our agricultural producers. If people refuse to contribute to large scale food waste and turn down chemically grown products in the marketplace the only way to make a buck will be to satisfy the demands of the people. In the end, we do have the power. Only by complacency will we lose it.

Rebecca Veenstra
Founder, New World Seeds 
of Traverse City

2017 Hash Bash in Review - by Ben Horner

Ann Arbor, MI:  As cannabis becomes more mainstream so, too, does the annual Ann Arbor Hash Bash, which was held in the typical tradition on the diag at the University of Michigan on the first Saturday of April. As the medical marijuana industry grows, it’s influence plays a more dynamic role in the festivities. The Monroe Street Fair, Cultivation Classes by Arbor Side, and the first Hash Bash Cup were the best examples, however local advocates like Captain Kirk and his mobile rolling tray added to the day’s ganja glory.

     Rhory Gould, and the crew from Arbor Side (a premier dispensary in A2), brought two expert legendary speakers, Danny Danko and Gorge Cervantes to teach a Cultivation Seminar.  Danko brought insightful strategies for entering the new commercial world of cannabis production.

Cervantes showed how outdoor cultivation is done around the world; complete with slides from grows in California, Oregon, Spain, Switzerland, Mexico and several others.

    Both Gorge and Danko joined other local Michigan speakers like Adam Brook and John Sinclair to deliver the Hash Bash commencements on campus. As the main speaker finished attendees filtered out onto the Monroe Street Fair. There, Charlie Strackbein and the crew from BDT organized the street vendors and live entertainment. The weather was warm and sunny, copious amounts of marijuana in every form was available to purchase from people at the fair.

    On the Eastside, Cory the Budtender and      Adam Brook took over the old Clarion hotel.  They booked the entire hotel and turned it into the biggest weed flea market east of the Mississippi. Hundreds of patients came to try just about every flavor of sticky buds made in Michigan. The event was so successful Brook is considering doing another later this summer.

     There are estimates of over ten thousand visitors to the Bash, making this year the largest attended Hash Bash in the event’s forty-seven year history.

Grow Tip for May 2017 - by Ben Horner

Secured, Outdoor Growing

     All medical marijuana that is grown outdoors must comply with Michigan House bill 4851 that amended the MMMA. 

     According to the rules, all outdoor cultivation must not be "visible to the unaided eye from an adjacent property when viewed by an individual at ground level or from a permanent structure" and must be "grown within a stationary structure that is enclosed on all sides, except the base, by chain-link fencing, wooden slats, or a similar material that prevents access by the general public and that is anchored, attached or affixed to the ground, located on land that is owned, leased, or rented by the registered patient or caregiver and restricted to that grower's access.

     Just as important, if someone robs a grow, a patients medicine is going on to the streets, which endangers everyone’s ability to cultivate their own medicine.

Here are some tips to stay in compliance when growing outside:

1. Always grow on your property, or property that you are renting. Currently there is a bill in the works that would allow landlords to prohibit tenants from growing their own medicine, so make sure that one has permission to avoid complications.

2. Make sure your grow is secured on all sides and cannot be seen from anyone unless they are on your property. Fencing around your green house or other grow structure is the best solution. Chain link fence will do but you may need to acquire translucent material to line the fences. Just one leaf that is popping out could make one out of compliance so make sure you give your plants room to grow. Fencing must be secured to the ground in such a fashion that one could not easily break in.

3.  Secure your fencing to the ground. If one is growing on a concrete slab, secure it with high impact concrete screws. If one is on dirt use 4x4 posts every four to six feet around the grow structure. Using a post hole tool, dig two foot deep post holes and use quick setting concrete to secure the post in the ground. (if you need further instruction, look up do-it-yourself guilds to deck building) Then secure the post to the grow structure so nothing can lift it. 

4. Put something on top of your grow structure, such as chick wire. This will keep you in compliance for both a structural security as well as preventing your plants from growing so high that the girls may be seen from a distance.

5.  Use motion sensor floodlights, security cameras and watch dogs for additional security. If someone breaks in to a grow operation the security will be questioned and you will lose you medicine. 

6. Finally, do not tell anyone that does not need to know. Seems like common sense but more grows are stolen from bragging to friends and family than anything else.

MMM Report Visits 'The Spott' - by Joe Dauphinais

     We recently made a trip to check out The Spott, a medical cannabis testing facility in Kalamazoo. Conveniently located near I-94, this state of the art laboratory boasts some of the most cutting edge equipment in the entire state. The Spott provides growers and dispensaries with full spectrum testing including cannabinoid potency, terpene quantification, genetic profiling, residual solvents, and gender identification. The Spott offers more testing options than any other lab in Michigan, with a fast turnaround. Often in less than 24 hours!

     Inside the lab is quite impressive. The interior features highly educated personnel in lab coats running complicated machinery and equipment accompanied by computer screens displaying chromatographs and various other data, all pertaining to the scientific methods The Spott utilizes to obtain the most accurate results possible. With a combined experience of over 50 years in the industry, the staff at The Spott have a deep passion for science and cannabis.

     I had a chance to sit down with Linda, owner of The Spott. Linda told me that before The Spott came to be, she was looking to open a dispensary in Kalamazoo. With resistance from the city, Linda decided to go another route and instead got into cannabis testing in 2014. With continued problems from the city, The Spott faced loopholes and legal grey areas, but they were finally able to open up shop and made their first sale in 2015. Since then, The Spott has grown in leaps and bounds.

Among the half-million dollars worth of equipment, one machine stands out as the flagship of their fleet: The Waters Acquity H Class UPLC.   This bad boy is the latest and greatest thing when it comes to pharmaceutical level testing. It is used by Pfizer and other big name pharmaceutical companies.

     We met Greg, who has the pleasure of operating this liquid chromatography equipment. Employees at The Spott have a variety of degrees, including Masters in chemistry, Biological Sciences, and Basic Medical Science. Greg specializes in chemistry and has over 15 years pharmaceutical testing experience. Greg demonstrated how they separate every single component of the testing material through liquid dilution. Using this method, The Spott is able to quantify up to 13 cannabinoids with accuracy down to 0.002 percent.

     We also met Mike, who was at the microscope station examining some nugs of GMO Cookies. Mike explained how it was important to do a visual inspection of the materials first, looking for mites, mold, hairs, or other foreign debris. Mike also assesses the trichome formations and conditions. When asked what the strangest foreign matter he found was, he replied that he had once found a cocoon-like type of pupa inside a bud.

 Detecting contaminants is essential for any caregiver to know, as things like mold and other fungi could make people sick. Being aware of the cannabinoid profile and the concentrations of terpenes in cannabis is also quite important as different ratios of these components can have different effects on patients.

     Terpenes are the fragrant oils that give cannabis its aromatic diversity. The Spott has another instrument in its arsenal for detecting the terpenes in cannabis: the Agilent 6890 GC FID. With this, The Spott can detect the presence of over 26 different terpenes. Terpenes are now being studied for their therapeutic effects.

     Another important service that The Spott offers is sexing from a leaf sample. This helps for early determination of gender for your baby plants. The instrument which reveals  gender uses polymerase chain reaction technology to identify the DNA code specific to male cannabis. If you are interested in sexing your plants, please contact The Spott for their specimen collection guidelines. The Spott also happens to be the only lab in Michigan to run this gender test in-house.

     Genetic strain identification and certification is also available. If you have a unique strain, you can have the DNA sequenced and registered with StrainSEEK as proof of existence and ownership of cannabis genetic intellectual property on the BlockChain database.  

     The Spott also tests for residual solvents. Residual solvents are the solvents that can remain in cannabis oils, shatters, waxes, and edibles. It is important to know that if any solvents are left over after processing, they are at safe levels.

     The Spott is a multiple award winning facility, and is family owned and operated. You can trust that your samples will be treated with the utmost care and scrutiny. The staff is quite knowledgeable and experienced in chemistry, biology, pharmacology, botany, and cannabis. They will be more than happy to assist you in anything you need. They even offer growing consultations and grow room certifications.

     Turn the page for The Spott’s price list. If you are interested in contacting The Spott, they can be found at: 901 Riverview Drive in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They can also be contacted online:

They can also be found on Facebook and Instagram. Check them out!

Free the Weed 73 - by John Sinclair

Highest greetings from the former Motor City, where I’ve been celebrating at the many events held during Michigan’s spring marijuana festivities that started for me at the THC Expo at the Roostertail in March, continued through the intensive Hash Bash ceremonies on the Diag at the University of Michigan for the 46th consecutive year and at the Monroe Street Fair a couple of blocks away, then at the first Hash Bash Cup ceremonies at the Wyndham Gardens hotel and the traditional Hash Bash party at the Blind Pig with the great Macpodz band and their guests, including this writer.

 The Hash Bash Cup is a welcome addition to the annual celebration of smoking marijuana openly in defiance of the state laws, and in recognition of Ann Arbor’s historic $5.00 (now $25.00) fine for marijuana violations and recent vote to fully legalize marijuana use in the city, the Ann Arbor police close off Monroe Street at both ends and let the people mingle and smoke freely while shopping at the many stands and enjoying the music emanating from the stage.

     The Wyndham Gardens hotel was fully booked by the Cup organizers under the direction of Adam Brook and, absent any random guests who might object to the theme of the event, the celebrants at the Hash Bash Cup tested the strains submitted by the entrant growers, voted on their favorite preparations, browsed the booths and tables and bought lots of weed-related products from the expo vendors, and enjoyed music emanating from a big stage placed above the main floor for two full nights of total fun. I had the privilege of performing with my old pal and fellow former marijuana defendant, pianist Bob Baldori and his band, and with my producer Tino G and the Funky D Records crew as well.

     Following the Hash Bash activities I enjoyed a little series of signing parties for my book It’s All Good sponsored by Horner Books and MMMReport at Crazy Wisdom Books in Ann Arbor, at the terrific new bookshop in Flint called Totem Books followed by a concert with Macpodz at Churchill’s in downtown Flint, and at Dr. Bob’s Psychedelic Healing Shack in Detroit, where I returned on April 20 to host a 420 party with Jeff Grand and Bobby East on guitars, James Whalen on harmonica and Ras Kente’s Detroit reggae band on board.

     I’m probably leaving something out, but the last thing I remember is driving up to Flint in a vicious rainstorm on 4/20 and making an appearance at the annual 420 Party at Buddy’s Clio Cultivation headquarters north of the city, nor far from the Auto City Speedway where High Times presents its Clio Cannabis Cup in the summertime.  Buddy says “Rain Or Shine,” and it was certainly raining on the ground between the stage and the big tent where all the celebrants were gathered out of the weather. Everybody had a great time but it was sort of a bizarre experience for the performers on stage to be looking out through the rain while we were playing.

     First of all it reminded me of the Hash Bash last year when it snowed on Ann Arbor all afternoon and we had our fun just the same. Then it made me think of the strangest experience I’ve ever had on stage when the MC-5 played one evening back in the late 1960s at a drive-in theater outside of Grand Rapids where it rained like crazy and all the people stayed in their cars, honking their horns and flashing their lights at the end of each song in lieu of applause.

     My month of hard labor in the Michigan trenches came to a conclusion on National Record Store Day with a performance with Tino G at the Found Sound record shop in Ferndale in celebration of the vinyl release of my Funky D album Mobile Homeland on the Jett Plastic Recordings label, selected as one of 50 vinyl releases for 2017 recommended for LP lovers to buy in stores across the country. It’s my first vinyl LP after about 25 album releases on CD and it was quite a thrill to be recognized by the record industry at last—albeit the smallest but most passionate segment of the record-buying populace.

     Later that evening I had the honor of opening a pair of shows for my pal Rodriquez, probably better known as Sugar Man, a fierce advocate of marijuana legalization and my friend since 1968. Rodriguez wanted to say something in the face of the ugliness that’s recently descended upon our great country courtesy of our reality TV star and real estate developer posing as the president, so he filled up first the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac and then the Old Miami Bar in the Cass Corridor for a double-header of music and poetry meant for the common people like ourselves.

 It’ll be over by the time you read this, but the last event of the glorious month of April this year in Michigan turned out to be the 50th anniversary celebration of the Belle Isle Love-In on April 30. On this date in 1967 a few thousand of us showed up on Belle Isle to smoke joints, dance to the music of the MC-5, Seventh Seal, Billy C. & The Sunshine and other bands, and otherwise celebrate our existence together in the open on a beautiful spring day in Detroit.

     The Belle Isle Love-In of 1967 was organized by our hippie collective called Trans-Love Energies, a broad-based non-profit cultural coalition developed by Rob Tyner, Gary Grimshaw, Leni Sinclair and myself that produced dances, free concerts and benefits, managed bands, published the Warren-Forest Sun newspaper, provided emergency housing for footloose hippies and runaways from straight civilization, and agitated for the legalization of marijuana through a branch called Detroit LEMAR, founded by this writer in January 1965.

     I have to mention Trans-Love in the context of my one major disappointment last month—my dream of finally opening my medicinal cannabis coffeeshop was dashed when things failed to work out as planned once again. Ever since Michigan legalized medical marijuana in 2008 I’ve been trying to establish a little place where people can meet, show their medical card, have a coffee or juice, enjoy a smoke, tune in to a high-powered wi-fi connection and listen to music from Radio Free Amsterdam over the sound system.

     From 2008 to 2010 I tried to make this happen at the Bohemian National Home and gave up when they decided to grow weed instead. I paired up with a guy named Paul Freel who called himself “Hollywood” or “Hollis P. Wood” and tried to set up shop in his little space on Gratiot near Eastern Market that he wanted to call Trans-Love Energies. In 2012 he raised a bunch of money for the venture, ripped off the Trans-Love name and registered it as his own for-profit company, put me out of his place and opened the coffeeshop without me.

     I’ve pursued the concept with two or three potential partners since then but so far to no avail. I’m convinced that a city-based cannabis coffeeshop would be a popular cultural destination among a certain population of metro Detroiters and I’ll keep praying for its eventual inception, if only so I can have a decent place to hang out when I’m in town. Free The Weed!
April 25, 2017

©  2017 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

V.G.I.P. Update for May 2017 - by Ben Horner

CRMLA Gets United Support for
Cannabis Legalization Petition

The Marijuana Policy Project has formed a new ballot committee, the Coalition for the Regulation of Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA). After just a few short months of drafting language, the real coalition of cannabis organizations around Michigan have endorsed the new petition to tax and regulate adult use of marijuana.

MI Legalize 2018, a ballot committee formed last year after their failed attempt to legalize marijuana in 2016, spent weeks negotiating for key points in the statutory initiative. Antimonopoly sentiments encouraged the language to open up secured transport structures and be a less restrictive. The plant count for personal cultivation is set at 12 plants per Michigan resident. Coveted expungement language for nonviolent cannabis charges was pulled, leaving court activists disappointed.

CRMLA will need 252,523 valid signatures within 180-days to make the 2018 ballot. After signatures are turned in, the state legislature will decide whether to enact the initiative into law or send it to the voters. The coalition has a goal of raising approximately 8 million dollars.

World News for May 2017 - by Rachel Bunting

Lucky Break for Large Grow
England: A 43-year-old man has received an eight-month prison sentence which will be suspended for two years for a large grow operation in Sherwood. James Coward was arrested after police responded to his address after receiving a call about a possible robbery. Officers found 73 plants in a sophisticated grow. Coward fully accepted responsibility for the plants. Judge Sampson reminded the offender that for the next two years “he would have the eight-month sentence hanging over his head.” Coward will be required to complete five rehabilitation activity days as well as six months of an alcohol treatment program. This is a light sentence considering this is not Coward’s first offense and the maximum sentence he could have received for cultivating was fourteen years and/or unlimited fines.


Dispensary Robbers Caught
Canada: Six people were arrested last month in connection to a string of robberies targeting dispensaries across the city. Four of those arrested were between the ages of 15 and 17, while the other two were 20 and 24. Police say masked assailants with guns entered the businesses, taking “physical control of the employees before stealing marijuana and cash.” Four dispensaries and one convenience store were robbed by the group between March 17th and April 4th. Law enforcement believes there is one more suspect that has yet to be apprehended. Unfortunately, due to the current laws, a couple of the dispensaries were unwilling to cooperate with police and refused to report the incident.


First in the World
Uruguay: After 4 years in the making Uruguay will be the first country in the world to legally sell marijuana over the counter for recreational use. The law legalizing cannabis trade in the country was passed in 2013 but the process of creating the market has been slow. This month, however, presidential aide Juan Andres Roballo announced the first dispensaries will be opening in July of this year. The law will require buyers, who must be citizens or permanent residents, to be listed on a national registry. Adults may buy up to 40 grams per month which will cost £1 ($1.30) per gram. All cannabis sold in pharmacies will be cultivated from state-supervised fields, but users will be allowed to grow in their own home or join clubs that farm it. Some buyers have voiced concern over signing a national registry, claiming it to be a violation of their privacy. So far 16 pharmacies have agreed to work with the government to sell the plant. Roballo says there will be a public health campaign before the registry opens.


New Drugged Driving Test 

Italy: The GardaĆ­ have announced a new oral test for drugged driving will start being used by officers in April. The test, called Drager Drugtest 5000, uses oral fluid to alert officers to intoxicated drivers. After receiving multiple calls with questions about the new test, officers released details claiming drivers whose oral fluid tests positive for cannabis or cocaine will be arrested and taken to the station for a blood test. Drivers that test positive for benzodiazepines or opiates and are deemed by officers to be visibly impaired will be arrested and taken for a blood test, while those the Garda believe are not impaired will be let go. Many residents were worried about the length of time marijuana can stay in the body and how medical cannabis factors into this test. The released statement claims the Drager Drugtest 5000 will detect THC in saliva for about 6 hours after the last use. “It is recommended to wait 24 hours after last using cannabis before driving. If you are sure you are no longer impaired as result of taking cannabis and more than 6 hours have elapsed since last use it should not be possible for a Garda to detect impairment and the 9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level in your oral fluid should be lower than the detection limit for the Cannabis test on the Drager Drugtest 5000.” They believe the number of drivers who will qualify for a medical exemption will be small as a prescription does not allow them to drive while impaired. Law enforcement feels this new test will help prevent future accidents by keeping impaired drivers off the road.


Synthetic Cannabis Creating ‘Dazed Zombies’
England: According to Euro News, synthetic marijuana, also known as spice, is causing problems in Manchester. Residents seem to become addicted to the drug, with the area supposedly “littered with people lying in the streets in a stupefied state. Often, they are found frozen to the spot for hours or slumped against walls.” Since the drug has been made illegal, new more powerful strains have come out. Makers have been altering the chemical make up just enough to keep their product on the market. A worker for the Homeless Charity Life Share told the BBC the effect on users is obvious in their actions, constantly trying to support their habit of a “legal high”. Operation Mandera was meant to crackdown on drug use in the area, but has been ineffective.


Irish Govt. Doesn’t Trust General Practitioners 
Ireland: A new access program proposed by a member of the Department of Health Medicines and Controlled Drugs Unit, Eugene Lennon, will allow special consultants to prescribe medical marijuana for three specific medical conditions. While the proposal would allow patients in need to obtain cannabis to help them, it is being criticized by many for its tight regulations. Richard Boyd Barrett spoke at the Oireachtas Committee on Health accusing the Department of Health of not trusting general practitioners with prescribing the medication. Lennon disagreed with this statement claiming the Department does trust GPs, but ‘had concerns about doctors prescribing cannabis for any condition.’ The new program would allow patients with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and those suffering from the effects of chemotherapy to use medical marijuana. Gino Kenny (PBP) believes the new program is flawed as it excludes people with chronic pain. However, consultants would be allowed to apply for licenses to treat patients with other conditions.

OH CANADA! - by Kathy Hess

     On Thursday, April 14th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made good on his campaign promises to the Canucks and revealed to parliament the House of Commons, Bill-C, the Cannabis Act, in hopes of making Canada the second nation worldwide to legalize recreational use of cannabis. Although it could take more than a year to finalize the legislation, Trudeau’s is hopeful they will pass Bill-C by July 1st, 2018 (Canada Day).
Huzzah Canada!

 Uruguay became the first nation to free the weed in December of 2013.  They have endured a long process in finalizing the laws and regulations, yet plan to open their first dispensary later this summer still making them the first country to legalize cannabis for its citizens.  But if the United States isn’t going to be the second nation to recognize all the health, safety, criminal and economic benefits to legalizing cannabis on a recreational level, then as Michiganders, we’re lucky that such liberties will only be a few klicks away.

Provinces will have the ability to tweak the laws as they see fit, in similar fashion to how laws vary here state by state for cannabis and liquor, as long as they adhere to the federal limitations.

     Current legislation quickly covers the biggest concern with most Canadians, protecting children, but they have also included provisions for how EMT’s are to handle and respond to marijuana overdoses. Overdoses? On Cannabis? Well that should be easy.

     Minimum age of allowance is currently proposed at 18, however there is already talk in some provinces of setting their limits at 21 or even as high as 25.  Of course, Bill-C also provided guidelines for criminal punishment if anyone is caught selling to a minor, up to 14 years in prison. They have established strict limitations on packaging and branding to prevent the “luring” of minors. No use of any real or fictional people, characters or animals on product packaging, or the use of material that “evokes a positive or negative emotion.”  Companies are not allowed to use testimonials or endorsements.  In many ways, its projected to mirror the tobacco industry in Canada, and not all that different than what our tobacco packaging laws are in the States.

     “Branding” becomes the questionable topic in relations to the Bills attempt to protect children.  Although most of Canada’s house members agree that branding is necessary, especially when being able to inform the buyer what they are purchasing.  Is it a sativa gene or indica? A good 50/50 blend, or a cbd gene? Is it recreational grade of medical grade?  Is it from the black market or the legal, tested and verified to be free of molds, mites and mildew recreational/medical market?  Branding a product however, inevitably induces emotions of some sort, making it questionable.

     Considering the current confusion to much of the medical marijuana community when it comes to the labeling of strains, and what one purchases from caregivers or safe transport locations here in Michigan, it will certainly be interesting to see if the branding of marijuana will help create a language for cannabis in Canada or perhaps North America.  To cut through the ambiguity of OG Kush, G-13 and Purple Haze. Caregivers and safe transports often creatively naming their strains to protect its genome or to make it more marketable.  One can understand how people new to the cannabis scene are lost to what they are getting.

     As the Bills stands, Canadians would be able to grow up to four plants per household, and are restricted to possessing to 30grams of dried product, with edibles to be determined at a later date.  It would also appear that they plan to integrate some of the current medical marijuana industries implementations to the recreational side.

     For example, Canucks can have their medical marijuana mailed directly to them from their provider.  It’s believed that recreation users will be able to do the same. Most of those who approve of the Bill envision the market to mirror that of the tobacco industry.  Cannabis shops will likely be independent of liquor and tobacco shops.  Considering the limitations of four plants per household, it would appear that this Bill assumes most will be getting their product from the commercial growers, who will be licensed and regulated by the federal government.  Anyone found operating outside of federal regulations will remain punishable, according to Ralph Goodale, the public safety minister.

   Some of the more conservative provinces have already debated altering these restrictions to be a little stricter. Which has caused for the typical back and forth infighting you see here in the states with their elected officials bickering over the potential industry.

     Conservatives accuse liberals of setting regulations to benefit liberal agendas, and the pockets of liberal house members who have personal or business ties to companies already established in Canada’s legal medical marijuana industry.  Liberals accuse Conservatives of trying to protect the interest of other established industries. Legalization would open the door for hundreds of other cannabis/hemp based products into the market, from paper and clothing to possible biodegradable plastics.

     There are a few conservatives trying to quell their parties verbal opposition.  With the majority of Canadians (58%) approving the recreational use of cannabis, fighting this issue would not assist conservatives in upcoming elections.

     Kevin O’Leary, a serious conservative contender for an upcoming House seat believes the Conservative party membership understands it has to embrace “a much larger constituency.”

“I think the party has moved into the place now where they understand it’s going to be part of the Canadian culture.  In order for the Conservative Party to be relevant, to actually build a platform that can remove Justin Trudeau from power in 2019, we have to have a very large tent.”

     Even though a few on the conservative side support it, there could still be opposition to the final Bill.  It’s not set in stone, and their seems to be a large push back that the federal minimum age requirement is so low.  Bill-C is certainly something to keep our eyes on over the next year or so.

 Of course, close proximity will allow for many of us Michiganders to see firsthand how legalizing cannabis nationally can change a nation.  If Bill-C passes we have to wonder if and how that might play a factor in the U.S. legalizing the herb for recreational use.   Will it change relations between our two nations?  Our current administration has revealed its opposition to those states who have already passed medical marijuana measures.  One has to assume the White House isn’t pleased with Canada’s step forward.

     Looking to cross the pond, visit our friendly neighbors to the north and partake in the new maple leaf when it becomes legal? Be sure to have your passport, or enhanced driver’s license ready.  Since June of 2009, Canada has required anyone entering the country to have proper documentation.

     Oh Canada, the stage is yours come Canada Day next year (hopefully).  Will you be taking over the cannabis industry and cornering a worldwide market?   Time will only tell.
We’ll be watching.

National News for May 2017 - by Rachel Bunting

Marijuana Bills Still Moving in Nevada
Nevada: While many legislative bills in Nevada died in April, many marijuana bills are still moving either to the Senate or the Assembly floor. Most of these bills, sponsored by Senator Tick Segerblom, involve controlling and supporting the new industry. Bills waiting to move to the next step include; Senate Bill 236, which will permit local governments to allow public marijuana use in businesses such as bars and hotels with a permit. Senate Bill 302 would allow medical dispensaries to begin selling products immediately rather than waiting for the July 1st opening day. This bill would also create a 5 percent state tax on medical marijuana and a 15 percent tax on recreational.

     Senate Bill 329 has been referred to a finance committee and deals with marijuana research. Under Senate Bill 344, edible marijuana products cannot contain sugar unless they are baked goods and must not have labels with cartoon characters, mascots, action figures, balloons, fruits, or toys. Senate bill 374 will prohibit professional licensing boards from disciplining a card holder and employers from taking adverse actions against an employee ‘for expressing opinions relating to marijuana.’ Assembly Bill 135 proposes eliminating urine tests to assess suspected DUI drivers, and would require blood testing for specific marijuana metabolites. There were 5 bills that were exempt from being voted on immediately. Segerblom is hopeful that so many proposals survived the session and will move to the Legislature.


New Possession Program in Dallas
Texas: City council members in Dallas passed a “cite and release” program with a 10-5 vote. As part of the program, any person caught with less than 4oz of marijuana will be issued a misdemeanor citation and a court date. Currently, possession of even the smallest amount can land a person in jail so many are supportive of the new program going into effect October 1st. However, there are some, like defense lawyer Pete Schulte, who feel it will put more stress on law enforcement and the justice system. Schulte told CBS Local, “In a perfect world, if people were cited, they were released and they showed up to court and took care of their case, perfect. [But] if someone does not show up for their date in court, a warrant will be issued and served for their arrest, it just taxes law enforcement weeks or months later.” Dallas Police have confirmed they will be participating in the program, but would like to remind residents that the program does not apply to drug free areas.


“Cash Me Outside” Girl Caught Outside
Florida: Danielle Bregoli became an internet sensation after appearing on Dr. Phil in September of last year. Her horrible attitude and atrocious articulation became instant viral art with “cash me outside, how bow dah” appearing everywhere for a few weeks. The 14-year-old is in the news again for being caught outside her friend’s house with a joint on the same day she appeared in court over battery and theft charges. Bregoli claims she didn’t touch the joint, but as neither girl would tell law enforcement who it belonged to, they were both issued a citation.


Always One Step Ahead
Colorado: A proposed bill, recently passed by Colorado’s Senate, will keep marijuana cultivators and retailers safe if the federal government tries to interfere with their state laws. The law will allow growers and distributors ‘to reclassify recreational weed as medical marijuana in the event of a federal crackdown.’ Though many say that reclassifying the plants will not prevent federal interference, others believe this is “the boldest bid yet by a US marijuana state to avoid federal intervention.” The bill will now move to the state’s Democrat-controlled house.


Cultivation and Processing Center in Findlay
Pennsylvania: Sweetwater Pharmacognosy LLC has been given the green light, by Township Supervisors in Findlay, to create a large growing and processing facility. The building will have a 24,000-sq. ft.  greenhouse and an additional 8,000-sq. ft. will be used for the manufacturing process and office space. The final product will be shipped and sold at dispensaries. The company has already submitted applications to open dispensaries in Allegheny and Beaver Counties. Chief facilities director, Frank Zappala, told the post-gazette, “The growing and processing must take place in the same location, but selling and dispensing cannot take place in the same facility…wastewater from the facility will be filtered and recycled and the disposal of plant waste will follow regulations keeping it separate from other waste.”

     Sweetwater will not only be producing the forms of marijuana allowed in the state such as pills, oils, topical solutions, tinctures, and liquids, but has also obtained the only license in Pennsylvania for selling a transdermal patch. After the meeting, Supervisor Tom Gallant stated, “It’s legal, it’s been approved by the legislature, I have no problem with medical marijuana. I think the way we have been handling the issue in the past has gone nowhere. I would rather have it in our township where our board can make sure it is handled exactly the way it is supposed to be, rather than have it go someplace where we can’t trust what’s going to happen.”


There’s an App for that
Nevada: Unfortunately, there is still a stigma tied to marijuana use in society today. This can make it hard for people to meet like-minded individuals in the cannabis community, especially if they are not located near a marijuana-friendly area. Thankfully, there’s now an app for those looking to socialize more with other smokers. High There is the largest of several social and match making apps available to marijuana enthusiasts.

     CNN recently reported on a couple from Las Vegas who met on the app and are now planning their wedding. Chloe Lebbate and Dakota Shyface met through the site after having difficulty finding anyone that was comfortable with their regular cannabis use on sites like Tinder and “I had given up on dating apps,” Lebbate told CNN. “I couldn’t find anyone who also smoked weed. It’s something that’s part of me. I use medical marijuana for health ailments, and a lot of people aren’t cool with that.” Shyface added, “I remember swiping (through Tinder), and I’d say 50% of profiles said, ‘no smoking’.” After finding each other on the app they met up in person, and were engaged three months later. High There has nearly 500,000 uses around the world with the highest areas being in California, New York, and Colorado. With so many ways to be involved in the cannabis community, no stoner should ever feel alone.


Coming Soon: Legalization
Illinois: Details on House Bill 2353 were released by Senator Heater Steans and Representative Kelly Cassidy last month. The bill attempts to revise the Cannabis Control Act, which currently states that any person in possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana will be fined up to $200, up to 30 grams is a class B misdemeanor, 30-100 grams is a Class A misdemeanor, and more than 100 grams is a felony. The revisions would allow adults 21 and older to purchase marijuana and the process would be similar to buying alcohol. Identification would be required when purchasing and smoking in public would remain illegal.

     Residents in the state would be allowed to possess up to 28 grams and grow their own marijuana so long as they are not grown in public view. Anyone would be able to cultivate and distribute marijuana but must have a state license to grow or sell hemp. Smoking and driving would still be illegal. The Department of Agriculture will have 180 days, if the amendment is approved, to create rules and regulations for over the counter establishments. A $50 tax would be put on every 28 grams of cannabis flower, $15 per 25 grams of non-flower marijuana products, and $25 for every immature plant. Taxes will be distributed to the Board of Education, the Department of Public Health, and the general revenue fund.

     The amendment allows employers to deal with marijuana ‘as they see fit’, lawmakers do not want to infringe on the rights of business owners. HB 2353 moves to the House Rules Committee next.

Michigan News for May 2017 - by Rachel Bunting

46th Annual Hash Bash
Ann Arbor: April 1st was a beautiful day for the 46th annual Hash Bash on the University of Michigan Diag. As supporters fired up in protest and unity, politicians and activists spoke to the crowd about legalization in 2018. Some of the speakers included former NFL player Eugene Monroe, state Reps. Yousef Rabhi and Jeff Irwin, Ann Arbor City Council Members, Adam Brook, and John Sinclair.

     Each speaker voiced their version of “Free the Weed”. Cries of support filtered through the smoke-filled air from nearly 10,000 in attendance. The draft language for the 2018 legalization proposal was released by the Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol. It proposes legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older to be taxed at the wholesale level with state sales tax. The draft also gives non-violent marijuana offenders the opportunity to clean their records.

     Rabhi, who took Irwin’s seat in the State House, told festival goers, “I’m here with you today because the reality is, whether you like it or not, people are using marijuana, and so the prohibition, it doesn’t work. And so, what we need to be doing is looking at ways to decriminalize and legalize, so that we can ensure that everybody is using marijuana safely. It is about safe usage.”

     Another predominant message from speakers was about unity within the marijuana community. There have been political differences between groups hoping for legalization in 2018, but many want to see those disputes put aside for the good of recreational legalization.


Routine Traffic Stop 
Ludington: A man from Pere Marquette Township, Josh Barnaby, was pulled over on I-196 on a simple traffic violation when officers discovered him in possession of marijuana. The search led officers to execute a warrant on Barnaby’s home and property located in Mason County. MSP and SSCENT (the State, Sheriffs, Chiefs Enforcement Narcotics Team) investigated the residence and found a large grow operation as well as a hash oil lab. Barnaby pled guilty in Mason County to manufacturing marijuana and possession with intent to deliver which could land him in jail for up to a year with his deal. He will also face charges in Allegan County. He will be sentenced in Mason at the end of May.


Out of Marijuana
Monroe: The City Council in Monroe unanimously agreed last month to ‘opt out of authorizing potential medical marijuana facilities,’ according to Michigan Radio. Vincent Pastue, the City Manager, stated that the main reason for the decision is insufficient regulations for the businesses. Though the proposal could be visited later, Pastue hopes the current verdict will deter hopeful entrepreneurs from trying to apply for licenses from the city. It’s likely regulations for dispensaries will not be written until this winter when the new laws go into effect.  With the number of dispensaries opening throughout the state, it is very likely the Monroe City Council will need to visit this idea again.


Embracing the New Laws
Niles: The Niles Council approved a ‘resolution stating the intention to adopt the three medical marijuana laws passed last year’ in a 7-1 vote. The details of where, when, and how many will be hammered out later. Though there are some residents that are unhappy with the decision, officials claim they are acting on the voice of the majority in the community. Council member John Dicostanzo told the South Bend Tribune, “I think, most of all, this is an opportunity to take this substance, which has been a black-market substance for a long time, and bring it out into the open.” The new laws signed by Snyder late last year will allow cities to determine if they want any of the five marijuana related businesses in their area. 

     The approved businesses include retail dispensaries, grow facilities, processing operations, secure transport businesses, and safety compliance testing laboratories. Niles will determine the type of business as well as how many they will allow later in the year.


Centralizing Medical Marijuana Regulation
Lansing: To centralize the medical marijuana industry, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has created the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation. The new bureau will be located in the LARA Department, and will be responsible for overseeing the functions of the patient/caregiver registry as well as the new requirements for medical facility licensing. LARA’s Director, Shelly Edgerton, told mLive, “BMMR’s organizational structure puts Michigan at the forefront of state medical marijuana regulation,” LARA Director Shelly Edgerton said. “Many other states have various licenses and patient programs spread throughout different departments and agencies.” Edgerton believes ‘centralized services will enhance patient protections and make regulations more efficient for business customers.’ The BMMR will be in charge of the licensing, investigation, and enforcement of marijuana grow laws for operations allowed under the new laws signed last year by Gov. Snyder. Applications for licensing will be available through the bureau by December 15th.


New Website Fills Marketplace Void
Livonia: The marijuana industry in Michigan, and all over the US, is constantly changing and adapting. This constant movement makes people involved with marijuana nervous, especially growers. Cultivators not only fear repercussions from law enforcement but also theft if the location of their operations are compromised. These fears make it difficult for growers to find trustworthy, pot-friendly services for things such as plumbing or electric. This void allowing growers to connect with basic services was noticed by Jerry (last name withheld), who decided to create a marketing platform aimed at helping those in need. 

     Green Care Network, on the surface, is a “cannabis-related location based directory” which allows the public to find dispensaries, delivery services, testing facilities, and certification doctors. However, the flip side of the site is to connect businesses within the medical marijuana industry with various contractors. It allows marijuana businesses to safely find services without the fear of exposing their business. Though it was started and is based in Michigan, the site operates all over the US. Jerry hopes “to use the platform to help fight the stigma against cannabis use, so that users and growers don’t feel like they have to hide anymore.” 


College Students & Marijuana Use
Ann Arbor: According to a new study from the University of Michigan, the number of “first-time marijuana use among college students” is the highest it has been in 30 years. Richard Miech, the author of the study, claims that college students are 50 percent more likely to use cannabis than peers that are not enrolled in college. The research found 51 percent of college students, aged 19 to 22, became first time users in 2015, which is a 41 percent increase from 2014. Miech believes the increase is due to college being a time “when there’s no parental supervision, there’s lots of free time, there’s often a party culture, and... these things can promote experimentation with drugs.” He also attributes the jump to changing attitudes toward the plant in society overall, telling Michigan Radio, “I think what’s happening is that people are beginning to see marijuana more like alcohol—that it’s something you can do recreationally and that there’s not much immediate harm from it.”

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Who's Afraid of Donald Trump in Michigan? - by Tim Beck

     Well, if we believe some local and national media reports, we should all be afraid. One could get the impression it will be hell on earth for practically every cannabis user and business person in Michigan, should Trump and his crew go on a jag. Don't swallow it. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act of 2008 (MMMA) of which I played a key role in creating, was specifically written to withstand attacks by a hostile Federal government.

     Back in the bad old days in 2007, the George W. Bush regime in Washington was loaded for bear. They were arresting patients, going after growers, and busting California dispensaries using their power under Federal law.

     The question facing the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and its supporters at that time (MPP was responsible for  funding and passing the ballot initiative, which made medical cannabis legal in Michigan)  was how to have a workable medical marijuana program and at the same time, make it practically impossible for the Federals to enforce their cruel laws.

     So we came up with the "caregiver" system, where medical marijuana would be produced by thousands of small time growers all across the state. Such a system was designed to overwhelm Federal resources. With state and local police now out of the mix, patients would be assured a viable supply of medicine.

     It has been ten years, since the original MMMA was written. Things have evolved from there. The program now has 240,000+ patients and over 40,000 caregivers. Some of us believe  thousands of "recreational" users have found refuge under the auspices of the MMMA. The Legislature has refined the law over the years; and it is highly likely a well funded legalization effort, spearheaded by the MPP, will go to Michigan voters in November 2018.

     One thing however, has not changed. The caregiver system is and will continue to be in place come what may. It will not be changed by any legalization efforts. In spite of efforts by hostile members of State Legislature to destroy caregivers in the past, the system has withstood the test of time.
To put this all into perspective, a caregiver is allowed to grow up to 72 plants for themselves and their patients. If each caregiver is producing half that number, there are now over 1.4 million marijuana plants growing under the protection of Michigan law. With the Federal DEA's limited resources, the vast majority of these plants will never be uprooted. Our people living in "Pure Michigan" will be adequately supplied come what may.

     At this juncture, the question on all of our minds is what is the Trump administration going to do, if anything?

     My prediction is  nothing serious is going to happen. Yes, the US Attorney General, the Chief of Homeland Security, the White House press secretary and the new Drug Czar have all expressed their dislike for marijuana. However, Trump himself has been silent for many months on the issue, and as of this writing nothing has changed. Accordingly, it is my belief Trump himself is the one calling the shots, not his subordinates.

     Some of you old timers reading this blog will recall the President Richard Nixon years. Nixon was not nicknamed "tricky Dick" for nothing back then. Oftentimes Nixon would say one thing and then do something else. When members of the press asked Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, what was going on with Nixon's behavior; Mitchell replied: "watch what we do, not what we say."

     Seems to some of us watching President Trump's mode of operation, that there are parallels to the Nixon era. That could be good or bad for cannabis consumers. So far, Trump's appointees have been all talk and no action. Let's hope it stays that way. In the meantime, Michigan has the best designed system in the USA to resist a new Federal assault.

Tim Beck is Chairman of the Safer Michigan Coalition. The Coalitions's goal is to fully legalize the use of cannabis by all adults in Michigan.