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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Michigan news for November 2017 - by Kathy Hess

Degree in Weed
Marquette: The University of Northern Michigan, located in the U.P. in Marquette, is offering degrees in medicinal plant chemistry.   Yes, you can now get a degree in weed, here in Michigan.  Of course there have been other colleges that offer classes on marijuana policy and laws or certificates in a variety of disciplines.  But NMU is the first to offer a four year program addressing the science and business behind the marijuana industry. 

This program isn’t for the undisciplined scholar.  Students will be required to take 400 level classes in chemistry, biology, botany, horticulture, marketing, and finance to achieve the degree.  The hard work could pay off nicely.  Experts believe that a degree in medicinal plant chemistry could land a graduate a $70,000 year job right out of school.  Considering the booming market in Michigan, graduates won’t likely have to leave the state to find work.

Administrators at NMU state that marijuana is not grown on/off campus through the program, as it’s still listed as a schedule 1 drug, but they do grow other medicinal/non medicinal plants, and use cannabis plant parts in labs for testing and learning the components of cannabis.


Green Light for 32
Bangor Twp: Bangor Township officials have approved 32 applications for medical marijuana facilities.  As a result, millions of dollars in investments are expected to flow into the Bay County municipality.

In its meeting on Tuesday, October 24th, Bangor approved permits for 16 growers, 10 provisioning centers (dispensaries), 5 processing centers and 1 secure transport permit, according to Supervisor Glenn Rowley.  Of those ready with applications on Tuesday, none were denied/rejected.

There were 9 businesses in total that applied and were granted permits: Green Acres Wellness Center, Oasis Wellness Center, Pioneer Medical Cultivator, Pure Releaf, Therapeutic Health Choices, Uncle Bud’s Provisioning Center and 3 other (unknown)limited liability corporations. 

During the meeting more applications were dropped off.  As it stands the board has 11 new applications to review and vote on at its November 15th meeting.

Former Paralegal Faces Prison
Kent County: Susan M. Bond, who was accused of running an illegal medical marijuana dispensary north of Grand Rapids last year, was convicted Thursday, October 16th of numerous felony charges that could put her in prison for up to 20 years.
Kent County jurors found the 52-year-old guilty of five charges, including conducting a criminal enterprise and racketeering. The jury began deliberations Wednesday afternoon and reached a verdict mid-afternoon Thursday. Judge Joseph Rossi (Kent County Circuit Court), who presided over the two-week trial, ordered Susan be held on a $100,000 bond pending her sentencing date in mid-November.
The Provision Center was among seven locations visited by the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team on Nov. 28, 2016. Where Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Boer claims Bond headed a multi-million-dollar marijuana business in Plainfield Township.

Bond’s defense attorney, Michael Komorn, said Bond did nothing illegal. Komorn informed the jury that the investigation was only launched after Bond herself called police to report embezzlement from her business.  “And they flip it around and make it a mobster crime,’’ Komorn said in opening statements last week. “At no point are you going to hear that my client delivered marijuana to anybody.’’

Members of the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team launched the probe in the summer of 2016. Between Aug. 1 and Oct. 14, 2016, the business reportedly took in more than $647,000; Bond pocketed about $137,000, according to Boer.  “Bond used proceeds to pay rent and salaries, and invest in supplies,” Boer told jurors.

Bond was found guilty of racketeering and conducting a criminal enterprise – felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Jurors also convicted Bond of two counts of delivery/manufacture of marijuana (a four-year felony) and maintaining a drug house (which carries a two-year term).

Camping for Cannabis
Leoni Township: Leoni Township decided to take a different approach to the license application process for medical Marijuana Dispensaries.  The imposed a ‘first come, first served,’ process.  People will camp in extreme temperatures for limited iPhones, or Black Friday deals.  Did Leoni Twp neglect to know that, or is the endurance of the race part of the test?

Applications will begin to be accepted on Wednesday, November 1st.  However Leoni Twp has already declared that it was only allowing for 6 medical marijuana dispensary licenses.  Although the date was little more than a week away, hopeful entrepreneurs began arriving at 4:20pm on Thursday, October 26th.  They came in campers, R.V.’s, and passenger cars to line up and wait with temperatures that dropped to 28 degrees during the night, for one of the prized medical marijuana licenses.

"It's worth it," said Ryan Basore of Michigan Marijuana Law Experts, who is in line on behalf of one of his firm's clients. The payoff for a few days of camping-it-out  could be a license to dispense medicinal marijuana to the state's 262,000+ registered patients, a golden ticket potentially worth millions of dollars over the next few years.

Lobbyists Mold MMM Laws
Lansing: It has been discovered that businesses, through a key group of lobbyists, have been privately weighing in on the potential rules for the estimated $840 million medical marijuana industry.

“The state officials who will be in charge of regulating medical marijuana have agreed to personal meetings with big players, gone out to lunch with their lobbyists and given private presentations to lobbyist groups,” according to records obtained by MLive and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation asked lobbyists and select businesses for input through a series of questionnaires, claims BMMR Director Andrew Brisbo, as it gathered information and educated itself before attempting to craft regulations. "We needed to rely on expertise, and that is individuals that are interested participants in the industry, their representation, other state regulatory agencies, we really have tried to gather as much information from all those sources as possible," Brisbo said.

The revelation of lobbyists and big business influencing the regulation of a booming market doesn’t surprise those who have been immersed in the industry for the past ten years.  But what does bother them is being completely shut out.  Many feel as though they should have a right to sit at the table on regulations, as they have been the ones investing their own hard earned money to open up and run the thriving businesses in the industry already.  They also feel as though it’s a slap in the face, as not only have they invested their own hard earned money –in a financially broken state-they have endured all of the dire risks in making marijuana an acceptable and viable industry.

It also brings into question if these lobbyists, and shadowed big businesses, have influenced the current numbers for the application fees and requirements for liquid assets. The licensing board has stated that its intent is to require businesses seeking facility licenses to have between $150,000 and $500,000 in startup capital (liquid assets), depending on the type of license being applied for.  Then each application could cost between $4,000 and $57,000, which is non refundable if your application is denied. 

Considering the current medical marijuana businesses already established in the state are majority “mom and pop” operations, it’s easy to see why they feel the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation is moving to push them out.  Most feel as though the state doesn’t truly care about small businesses, the backbone of our country.


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