Welcome to the Pure News January edition, where we break down this month’s news from the Michigan marijuana community!
Rec Sales Off to a Slow Start
Though the Marijuana Regulatory Agency pushed to have Michigan’s recreational sales begin on December 1st, the lack of licensed provisioning centers has severely hampered sales – and the resulting incoming taxes.
In Illinois, 30 provisioning centers opened their doors to recreational sales on January 1st, posting $3.2M in sales on the first day. By contrast, Michigan’s three initially licensed rec shops totaled only $1.3M in sales during the first week of sales.
A large part of the dramatic difference in sales is the high number of municipalities in Michigan — over 1,400 — that have opted out of recreational marijuana. Just this week the Detroit City Council extended its ban on recreational marijuana through the end of the March. City Councilman James Tate said that the extension would allow more time to determine rules and regulations, and “will allow ‘additional opportunity to continue to develop a social equity program that ensures all eligible Detroiters have an opportunity.’”
Both Lansing and East Lansing have stated that they will allow for recreational sales but have not issued a specific timeline. Most towns in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton counties have banned recreational businesses. The Lansing City Council ordinance allows for up to 28 recreational retailers, 55 cultivators, four social clubs, and four microbusinesses. Lansing accepted recreational license applications from December 23rd through January 21st, and is now reviewing those submissions.
Future Self Campaign Falls Flat
This month the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services pulled a series of ill-conceived anti-marijuana ads targeted at teens. The “Future Self” digital ad campaign played up the outdated stereotype of the lazy stoner, causing a strong public pushback. Medical marijuana patients, industry workers, and activists voiced concern over how the ads reinforced negative stigmas that they have been battling for years. The response was so strong that MDHHS quietly removed of 5 of the 6 ads from its Youtube page, and the debacle made national news. They are said to be “rethinking” how to convey their original message about the dangers of teenage marijuana use.
The Town of Bessemer Makes a Stink
The town of Bessemer in the UP also made national news this month after the city council voted to spend over $3000 on an odor detection device called the Nasal Ranger — yes, we said Nasal Ranger — to sniff out the stank from local cannabis grows. According to the council, the number one complaint they receive from residents is about the odor coming from marijuana plants. It is unclear exactly what would happen should the Nasal Ranger identify problem sites, but City Manager Charly Loper said that some residents may be required to install an air filtration system.
Lansing 420 Fest in the Works
Paperwork has been filed with the City of Lansing for a 420 Cannabis Music Festival to be held downtown on April 18 at the Adado Riverfront park. As the Lansing City Pulse pointed out, the City Council intended to ban marijuana-themed events with its recreational marijuana ordinance, but – to the joy of the local cannabis community – they failed to recognize a specific loophole that will allow mayor Andy Schor to make the final decision on event permits. Concert promoter CEP has stated that marijuana will not be sold on the premesis, and that the event is envisioned more as a celebration of legalization than as a Hash Bash. Ticket sales for the 420 festival have already begun on Eventbrite.
Protection for Pet Docs
Proposed legislation in the House Agriculture Committee would explicitly allow for veterinarians to discuss CBD and marijuana with pet owners. While medical marijuana has been legal since 2008, and marijuana as a whole has now been legalized in the state, these changes did not apply to veterinarians, leaving them unable to discuss alternative treatment options with their clients. House Bill 5085 would give veterinarians legal protection when discussing CBD, be it in a positive or a negative light.
State Seeks Input on Social Equity Program
The Marijuana Regulatory Agency will be hosting stakeholder workgroups throughout February in order to gather information and input on the state’s Social Equity Program. In early January the MRA issued a request for interested individuals to contact the agency, and participants would be able to discuss and provide suggestions for the program. Workgroups are scheduled in Detroit (Feb. 5), Muskegon (Feb. 12), Coldwater (Feb. 20), and Mt. Pleasant (Feb. 25).