USDA Approves Hemp Production Plans For Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico And South Dakota

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the approval of hemp production plans under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program for Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico and South Dakota, bringing the total number of approved plans to 69.

USDA continues to receive and review hemp production plans from states and Indian tribes. To review approved plans or check the status of a plan, visit the Status of State and Tribal Hemp Production Plans webpage.

State and tribal plans previously approved include:

States Tribes
Delaware Blackfeet Nation
Florida Cayuga Nation
Georgia Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes
Illinois Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Iowa Chippewa Cree Tribe
Kansas Colorado River Indian Tribes
Louisiana Comanche Nation
Maine Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
Maryland Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
Massachusetts Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
Minnesota Fort Belknap Indian Community
Missouri Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
Montana Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Nebraska La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indian Tribes
New Jersey Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
Ohio Lower Sioux Indian Community
Oklahoma Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida
Pennsylvania Oglala Sioux Tribe
South Carolina Otoe-Missouria Tribe
Tennessee Pala Band of Mission Indians
Texas Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
Utah Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation
Washington Pueblo of Picuris Tribe
West Virginia Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
Wyoming Rosebud Sioux Tribe
Puerto Rico Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa
U.S. Virgin Islands San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona
Santa Rosa Cahuilla Indian Tribe
Santee Sioux Nation
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
Seneca Nation of Indians
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo
Yurok Tribe

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) directed USDA to develop a regulatory oversight program for hemp and include provisions for USDA to approve hemp production plans submitted by states and Indian tribes. Accordingly, on Oct. 31, 2019, USDA issued an interim final rule establishing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program and the provisions for USDA to approve submitted plans. State and tribal plans provide details on practices and procedures that enable hemp producers in their jurisdictions to operate according to their individual plans and in compliance with federal laws.

For additional information about the program, visit the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program webpage.

Cannabis Caucus Of Michigan’s Democratic Party Releases List Of Candidate Endorsements

2020’s general election is the most significant election in modern American history, and cannabis law reform is a significant part of every election in America- and in Michigan.”

— Rick Thompson, Elections Committee Chair

MICHIGAN:   Pro-cannabis candidates for election have been identified and endorsed by the Michigan Democratic Party’s Cannabis Caucus. The Caucus has endorsed contestants in both national and in-state contests being decided at the General Election on November 3rd.

The Caucus endorses Joe Biden as President and recommends that the state voters return Gary Peters to the US Senate. The full list of endorsements is included below incorporates candidates for select national and state House races; county prosecutors and sheriffs; and local offices. This is not an exhaustive list, as the corona virus and a lack of statewide cannabis ballot proposal has kept cannabis off the minds of many who are running for political office.

The list of endorsements includes:

President
Joe Biden

US Congress
Gary Peters, Senate

US House of Representatives
Dan Kildee 5th District
Elissa Slotkin 8th District
Andy Levin 9th District
Haley Stevens 11th District
Debbie Dingell 12th District
Rashida Talib 13th District
Brenda Lawrence 14th District

Michigan House of Representatives:
Tenisha Yancey District 1
Joseph Tate District 2
Shri Thanendar District 3
Abraham Aiyash District 4
Cynthia Johnson District 5
Tyrone Carter District 6
Helena Scott District 7
Stephanie Young District 8
Karen Whitsett District 9
Abdullah Hammoud District 15
Darrin Cammilleri District 21
Cynthia Neeley District 34
Julia Pulver District 39
Mari Manoogian District 40
Nicole Breadon District 43
John Cherry District 49
Yousef Rabhi District 53
Nancy Smith District 65
Lily Cheng-Schulting District 72
Rachel Hood District 76

County Level Endorsements
Krystle DuPree, Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education
Julie Dye, Cass County Commissioner
Richard Clement, Detroit Public Schools Community District
Carol A Siemon, Ingham County Prosecutor
Val C. Toops, Jackson County Sheriff
Karen McDonald, Oakland County Prosecutor
Vincent Gregory, Oakland County Sheriff
Nick Roumel, Washtenaw Circuit Judge
Eli Savit, Washtenaw County Prosecutor

The Cannabis Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party is Michigan’s partisan cannabis advocacy group and features Mike McCurdy as Chairman and Rick Thompson as Elections Committee Chair. The group has a Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/MICannaCaucus/

USDA Approves Michigan’s Industrial Hemp State Plan

MICHIGAN:  The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) received federal approval of the state’s Industrial Hemp Plan. This plan establishes regulatory requirements for cultivating industrial hemp and gives MDARD primary oversight of industrial hemp production in Michigan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) approval means Michigan’s plan complies with the 2018 Farm Bill requirements and USDA’s Interim Final Rule.

In April 2019, MDARD established the state’s first Industrial Hemp Ag Pilot Program so farmers, processors, and state colleges and universities could grow, handle, process, and research industrial hemp. The pilot program continued into the 2020 growing season, with 631 growers and 517 processor-handlers registered and/or licensed to grow, process and market industrial hemp.

“The success of the pilot program has paved the way for cultivation and expansion of Michigan’s new crop,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “The approval of the state plan is a testament to the hard work our team has put in over the last 22 months developing the regulatory framework for growers to diversify their operations.”

Senator Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Township, sponsored the Industrial Hemp Growers Act (Senate Bill 850), to align Michigan’s Industrial Hemp laws with USDA’s Interim Final Rule. Public Act 137 of 2020 enabled Michigan to submit the state plan for approval and keeps Michigan farmers compliant with federal requirements to grow industrial hemp.

“Michigan’s pilot program for industrial hemp has been a great success,” said Lauwers. “There is increasing interest in this crop in a wide variety of sectors. Michigan farmers will benefit greatly from being able to grow hemp, under the 2018 Farm Bill and Michigan’s USDA approved Hemp Growers Program.”

Starting December 1, 2020, MDARD will implement the state hemp plan in tandem with the beginning of the 2021 grower registration cycle. There are some key changes that growers need to be aware of before the December 1 effective date:

  • Growers will no longer be able to collect their own samples for submission to MDARD’s laboratory for THC analysis. Instead, growers will be required to contact the department to schedule an appointment for MDARD staff to collect samples.
  • Growers are required to provide a legal description of the property that they intend to grow hemp on. This is in addition to the already required address, GPS coordinates, acreage, and maps of their growing area(s). Growers will also be required to submit their hemp acreage directly to USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
  • The requirement for growers to harvest their compliant hemp within 15 days of receiving their analysis results will continue in the 2021 growing season.
  • The state plan includes specific methods of destroying industrial hemp determined to be non-compliant and growers must follow the specific notification requirements before destruction.
  • Grower registration applicants must continue to submit a criminal history report. The report is required to include any felony drug convictions occurring outside of Michigan which will require growers to use an FBI background check tool rather than the previous ICHAT tool.

MDARD will send out a series of email updates to hemp growers throughout November on the changes. Additional information about the Michigan industrial hemp program is also available at Michigan.gov/IndustrialHemp. Anyone interested in hemp program updates can self-register here.

Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency Social Equity Program Announces October Education and Outreach Session

MICHIGAN: The Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) has announced the date, time, and location for its October Education and Outreach Session.

Date:     Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Time:    10:00 AM
Place:   Zoom

While attendance is free, space is limited. Interested participants need to register for  the Education and Outreach Session at the following website:

On November 1, 2019, the MRA began accepting applications for licensure under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA), for a marijuana retailer, marijuana processor, class B marijuana grower, class C marijuana grower, or marijuana secure transporter, from persons holding a state operating license pursuant to the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA).

On October 6, 2020, the MRA issued a bulletin announcing that on March 1, 2021, applications will then be accepted from any applicant for the following adult-use licenses:

  • marijuana retailer
  • marijuana processor
  • class B marijuana grower
  • class C marijuana grower
  • marijuana secure transporter

The Education and Outreach Session will highlight all the adult-use licenses that will be available to any applicant beginning on March 1, 2021. The MRA Enforcement Section will also be in attendance to provide information on the required inspections of marijuana establishments.

Representatives from the MRA’s social equity team and Enforcement Section will be holding a question and answer session following their presentations.

The Zoom link to attend the October Education and Outreach event will be sent to participants who register.

Michigan Medical Marijuana Registry Card Application Fee Reduced, Other Fees Eliminated

Screenshot 2019-10-30 09.48.41MICHIGAN: The Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced today that new administrative rules for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) are now in effect. The new rules lowered the registry card application fee by 33 percent while eliminating fees associated with processing updates or replacing marijuana registry cards.

“Our team has worked hard over the last year to streamline the process for Michigan’s medical marijuana cardholders,” said MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo. “Not only have we lowered the costs, but we’ve made it significantly easier for patients to apply for – and receive – their registry cards.”

The MMMA was passed by Michigan voters in 2008 and authorizes the medical use of marijuana for qualifying patients and provides for the issuance of registry identification cards to qualifying patients and their caregivers, if applicable.

Highlights of the new changes are as follows:

  • The patient application fee (for a two-year card) has been reduced from $60.00 to $40.00.
  • The $25.00 caregiver criminal background check processing fee has been eliminated.
  • The $10.00 fee has been eliminated for the following services:
    •  Update the name or address on a registry card
    • Add or remove a caregiver
    • Request a replacement card
  • The renewal period for patients has increased from 60 to 90 days.
  • A provision is now in effect that authorizes patients to change the person designated to be in possession of the plants.
  • Email is now included as a method by which the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP) may contact a patient, caregiver, or physician.

The new rule changes come shortly after the MRA expanded the MMMP online processes to allow marijuana patients in Michigan who apply for their marijuana registry card online to use their approval email as a temporary substitute for a valid registry card in order to obtain their medication the same day they are approved.

The email that patients receive after an approved online application serves as a temporary substitute for a valid registry card. This approval email is valid until patients receive their card in the mail or for up to 15 days from the date of the approval email.

As a result, patients do not have to wait to receive their registry cards in the mail and will be able to purchase or obtain medication the same day they are approved. A valid driver’s license or government-issued identification card with a photographic image is also required to purchase marijuana.

To utilize this online service please visit www.michigan.gov/mmp and note the following:

  • A patient’s certifying physician must have an online account with the MMMP
  • A patient must register for an online account
  • The patient must submit an online application

If you have questions about the temporary card or about the online application process, please call the Marijuana Regulatory Agency MMMP Division at 517-284-6400.

Cresco Labs Receives Approval To Enter The Michigan Market

ILLINOIS:  Cresco Labs Inc., one of the largest vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operators in the United States, today announced that it has completed the most comprehensive portion of Michigan’s application process, being pre-qualified for a cultivation and processing license by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Medical Marihuana Licensing Board. The pre-qualification represents the authorization of the entity to move forward with the licensing process for its intended facilities.

“We continue to execute well on our expansion strategy and leverage our professional, proven approach to win access to new markets,” said Cresco Labs CEO and Co-founder Charlie Bachtell. “Entering Michigan will add another large market opportunity to our growing footprint and increase our total addressable consumer base to more than 150 million people. Michigan is one of the largest medical cannabis markets in the country with an estimated patient population of nearly 300,000 patients and is steadily moving towards implementation of an adult-use program. Pre-qualification is the most significant regulatory hurdle in the Michigan licensing process. We expect to replicate the process that has enabled us to quickly and efficiently get operational in other markets and begin making our full suite of brands available to patients wanting to experience the positive medicinal benefits of cannabis.”

Cresco Labs has applied for a cultivation and processing facility to be located in a former 100,000+ square foot factory in Marshall, Michigan. The Company has been granted conditional local approval to build and operate the facility pending final approval of its state facility license application.

Michigan Market:

Michigan is the 10th largest state in the country with a population of nearly 10 million people and more nearly 300,000 registered patients in the state’s medical cannabis program. According to Arcview Market Research/BDS Analytics, the total cannabis market in Michigan – including both medical spending and future legalized adult-use spending – is projected to increase to nearly $1.4 billion by 2022 from $869 million in 2018.

Cresco Labs Footprint:

Upon the receipt of licensure in Michigan and the closing of the Company’s pending acquisition in Florida, Cresco Labs will have 15 production facilities, 21 operational retail dispensaries and licenses to operate a total of 51 retail dispensaries across 11 states – Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, California, Arizona, Florida, and Michigan with New York, Maryland and Massachusetts pending regulatory approval. The Company’s products are currently on the shelves of over 250 dispensaries. Cresco Labs will have operations in seven of the ten most populated states in the country with legalized cannabis programs totaling more than 150 million residents, which is nearly 70% of the estimated total addressable US cannabis market

Michigan: Marijuana Possession Becomes Legal Next Week

MJLegalMICHIGAN: Key provisions of the state’s voter-initiated marijuana measure will take effect next week. Members of the Board of State Canvassers certified the midterm election results on November 26, and Proposition 1: The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act becomes law on Thursday, December 6.

Provisions specific to the adult possession and cultivation of cannabis will take immediate effect. Those over the age of 21 may legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or 15 grams of cannabis concentrates in a private residence. Adults may also legally cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants in private, and possess the harvest (up to ten ounces) of those plants. Public use of cannabis will remain a violation of law.

Under the new law, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has up to 12 months to begin accepting applications from those seeking to operate licensed cannabis businesses.

Michigan is the tenth state to regulate the adult use of marijuana, and it is the ninth to do so via voter initiative.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit Michigan NORML.

Acreage Holdings Acquires Blue Tire Holdings In Michigan

NEW YORK: Acreage Holdings announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire the real estate assets of Michigan-based Blue Tire Holdings to bring cannabis products to Michigan residents throughout the state. Leading development efforts in the state will be a team of Acreage Holdings and Blue Tire experts, including Blue Tire’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Saqib Nakadar, who was recently appointed to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel.  Dr. Nakadar brings unparalleled medical cannabis experience and regulatory access to the venture for the state of Michigan.

(PRNewsfoto/Acreage Holdings)

c spent the past several years acquiring a portfolio of real estate assets which, now through the expertise and financial resources of Acreage, are optimally suited to building a large scale vertical operation in Michigan, one of the highest per capita cannabis-use markets in the United States.  Blue Tire and Acreage will work together to acquire licenses to operate in the cannabis business in Michigan with respect to such properties.  Acreage will invest significant financial capital in Michigan to build out existing operations and hopes to acquire additional dispensary operations over the next few years.  

The venture is already well positioned to start dispensary operations with municipal licenses in key cities throughout the state including; Detroit, Bay City, Battle Creek, Lansing, and Ann Arbor. Real estate assets have been secured in strategic locations, including a 55,000 square foot facility in Flint that will serve as a large-scale mixed use indoor facility to cultivate high-end cannabis, provide manufacturing and packaging services, and serve as a flagship retail location. Acreage will also leverage an additional 30 acre property in Vassar with a licensed greenhouse cultivation and processing facility.  

Acreage also brings to Michigan a deep team of experts from leading companies in retail, spirits and other highly regulated industries. Acreage’s Board of Directors has unparalleled levels of political access and corporate governance with members including former Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, former Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney, former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, former tw telecom (formerly Time Warner Telecom) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Larissa Herda, former IBM Chief Financial Officer Douglas Maine and Chair Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc., Bill Van Faasen.

Marijuana Legalization Could Come To These 12 States This Year

By Eric Weisbrot

Despite strong efforts to maintain the criminalization of marijuana use in the United States, many individuals and lawmakers have taken a step in the direction of legalization over the last several years. Currently, there are 29 states that allow for medical marijuana use, under particular limitations, and a smaller percentage that give residents the ability to use marijuana on a recreational basis under state law. The federal government has been slow to end prohibition of the drug, but recent research shows growing support for legalization on a state level for many reasons.

One of the strongest components of marijuana legalization support revolves around the well-documented success of states that have eliminated prohibition for residents. The states that allow for recreational use of marijuana have systems in place to ensure the tax revenue and economic growth is regulated, mostly through the use of bonding and licensing requirements for dispensaries, growers, and distributors. Based on the positive outcomes legalized states have generated, there are 12 more states considering legalizing marijuana use on some level in 2018.

Michigan: In the state of Michigan, there is a current initiative to gather the 250,000 signatures needed to include a marijuana legalization bill on the ballot in the 2018 election cycle. If approved, the bill would allow for recreational use of the drug for those over the age of 21 who are also residents of the state.

Delaware: In late 2017, a legislative task force was formed in order to analyze the impact marijuana use has on state residents from a recreational standpoint. A bill was shot down in 2017, but the hope is that an opportunity remains in 2018 after the findings of the task force are made public.

New Jersey: With a Democratic-led legislature, New Jersey is poised to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in 2018. A skyrocketing criminal justice cost along with proven racial injustices in the state are the prime motivators behind passing such legislation this year.

Vermont: A bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana was approved in Vermont in May 2017, but it was vetoed by the governor at the time. A commission tasked with studying the issues surrounding recreational marijuana use, including health concerns and driving impairment statistics, was created at that time. Based on the results of the commission’s work, legislation is set to pass in Vermont in 2018 allowing adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivation of two mature plants.

Oklahoma: During either the June or November elections, Oklahoma is set to add a bill to the ballot for medical marijuana use legalization for state residents.

Ohio: Lawmakers in Ohio failed to get a bill passed to legalize recreational marijuana use in the last three years, but a ballot proposal is intended to be included during the midterm election cycle this year.

Connecticut: Thanks to local efforts from lawmakers in Harford, Connecticut legislature is set to include a statewide ballot vote for recreational marijuana legalization in November 2018.

Rhode Island: After forming a legislative commission in 2017, Rhode Island may be one of the next states to legalize recreational marijuana use in 2018. The commission sought to research the impacts of the drug on its community, based on neighboring studies in Massachusetts and Maine.

Kentucky: A bill for the legalization of medical marijuana may be on the docket in 2018 for residents of Kentucky. Although there is little support from the current governor, advocates for the drug’s medical use may beat the odds during the midterm election cycle.

Utah: Medical marijuana may be legalized in Utah, following in the footsteps of several other states nearby. The ballot for the midterm elections should include a bill for Utah voters to weigh in on in 2018.

South Dakota: South Dakota may also be close to legalizing medical marijuana, as signatures are currently being gathered for a ballot initiative slated for 2018 election inclusion.

Missouri: Similar to South Dakota, signatures are currently being collected for a medical marijuana bill in Missouri which would allow voters to make the decision in this election cycle.


Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.  

The Wink In Weed: The Midwest Leg Of ‘Cannafest Destiny’ Tours The Heartland

By David Rheins

So much attention is spent on the great progress that is being made on the East Coast, that we sometimes forget to acknowledge the truly historic changes that are transforming the country’s heartland.  As wise approach this Independence Day, those of us in the marijuana reform movement and legal cannabis industry have much to celebrate.  Roll fireworks, spark legal sparklers.

I grew up in the conservative Midwest dreaming of more.  Weaned on the music and poetry of Bob Dylan and John Lennon, rock & roll and marijuana sustained me during my formative years in the Indiana of the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, Midwesterners had little hope that legalization would ever really come to our bible belt.  Hell, you couldn’t even buy beer on Sundays, or buy a lottery ticket in the Hoosier state.

As soon as I could, I fled the flatlands of Indiana– first for the Central African Republic as a Peace Corp volunteer, and later to the libertine coastal towns of New York City and Seattle. In New York, I learned the business of media and marketing. At Rolling Stone Magazine, and SPIN and AOL Time Warner, I received a first-class education on building pop culture brands and established a network of lifetime friends and colleagues.

Since Colorado and Washington first voted to legalize recreational marijuana use in late 2012, the legal cannabis market has grown from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion last year, according to industry estimates. That kind of velocity gets the attention of investors, many of whom focus on tech.

MJBA has provided a safe place for professionals in legal cannabis to build the industry and establish best practices.

In Seattle, I found my people in a culture of bountiful marijuana and progressive politics.  The Pacific Northwest was where the hippies washed up.  In the cool forests and high-tech valleys of the Puget Sound, I found a society that had socialized, if not yet fully legalized, the use of cannabis. The PNW was rich in cannabis culture, and with extensive plant expertise, and established community, but no real business infrastructure. With legalization, and the complexities of compliance that come with it, we established the Marijuana Business Association to meet the many needs of those early business pioneers. We were privileged to be able to help establish one of the first legal cannabis markets, and a build a very vibrant community of cannabis business professionals that has allowed us to take that knowledge and expertise across the country as new markets opened.

Now, five years after those first market places began, we have established legal cannabis communities on both Coasts, and even in the Midwest.  Public opinion is firmly on our side, and even Congress has come around – with several bills currently circulating with bi-partisan support that will further unravel the age of prohibition.  By every indication, the country is moving towards legalizing marijuana for both medical and commercial use. The Senate, led by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, has passed the 2018 Farm Bill which includes Hemp farming provisions that De-schedule Hemp and allow American hemp farmers to take advantage of a booming global market (insert link). We are about to embark on the hemp century, and that portends great things for the Midwest.

What a great time then to steer the CannaFest Destiny Tour – the educational tour that Curved Papers and the MJBA have been on for the last two years – to Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

Curved Papers is a national sponsor of The Marijuana Business Association.

Curved Papers is a national sponsor of The Marijuana Business Association.

We began our trip in Michigan, the land of a thousand dispensaries.  Second largest medical cannabis market in the country — with more than 300,000 patients — Michiganders will vote on full legalization in November, and the local cannabis activists are feeling confident in success.

But for now, Michigan and the High Times Cannabis Cup was all about Medical Marijuana.  For starters, you had to be 18+, and possess a medical card to get in. We arrive at the racetrack in the pouring rain.  Navigating the muddy parking lot, we are greeted with long lines and quickly learn that there is a strict, if indecipherable, wristband hierarchy in play.  Super VIPs have replaced VIPs.  And If you ain’t Super VIP, you are only slightly above the great unwashed.  A strict canna-class system is in full evidence:  High Times hogs ride around on ATVs, vested security guards checks wristbands to ensure to unauthorized entrance into meager VIP – with its tubs of free Flynt Water Bottles water, a free t-shirt, and a place to get sit down and medicate – and slightly better Super VIP tented areas.

michael with mjba button

High Times Michigan was held at the Auto City Raceway in Clio, a former dirt track turned asphalt flea market for weed smokers, er I mean, patients.  The venue was packed, despite the rain, and the track was lined with every flavor of entrepreneurs eager to serve a hungry crowd. Corn dogs and infused coffee, dabs (called wax in Michigan), edibles and local flower, lots of flower were available in an endless circle of booths and trailers.  Just don’t look for alcohol.  Despite the permanent venue advertising that lined the track, there was no booze available at the track.  Instead, we found the nicest crowd you ever saw – a blissed out army of stoned zombies gathered together for a day of smoking marijuana and singing songs in the Midwest muck. We had a blast.

After two days in at the laidback track, we made our way southward to Cleveland, Ohio.  The vibe changed drastically once we crossed the border into the Buckeye State. Despite passing into law two years ago, medical marijuana remains legal, but unavailable.  Through corruption and incompetence, the state has hemmed, hawed and delayed the process so that the mandated September launch will be pushed back for who knows how long. As a result, the members of the cannabis community – advocates, educators, patients and healthcare professionals – are justifiably frustrated.

2018-Generic-Badge-RWBThis was the setting for the inaugural meetup of the MJBA Cleveland chapter.  Sponsored by MaryJane Staffing Agency and hosted at the offices of Meyers Roman, the event was attended by a small but passionate crowd of lawyers, entrepreneurs, educators and advocates, and covered in the Cannabis Business Times.

Attorney Steven Baden gave the attendees an overview of where the state stood with the rollout of its medical marijuana program (he expects delays to last until the first of the year), and MaryJane President Michelle Blank outlined the hundreds of new jobs and career opportunities for participants in Ohio’s legal cannabis system.  Entrepreneur Michael O’Malley shared his story of innovation, and opportunity for product marketers in the lucrative ancillary arena.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhQZhfvZATg]

Back to the beginning of my personal quest, Indiana is also the last frontier for legal cannabis. But even in Pence’s Indiana, there are rays of freedom breaking through.   The current Governor has signed the law legalizing CBD, and a few brave politicians are standing up for legalization.  At the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis, Grand Poohbah Bill Levin is awaiting a judge’s decision that could legalize Cannabis as a religious sacrament.

But for now, there is no cannabis in sight as the Cannafest Destiny Tour participated in the Church’s weekly Wednesday services.  Before the services, we receive a call to remind those of us from legal states that we cannot bring our weed onto church grounds.

But inside the classic Indiana Church building, a warm congregation (made even warmer as the air conditioning was on the fritz on the hot and humid Hoosier evening) welcomed us.  In addition to an inspiring sermon by Grand Poohbah Levin, we are treated to testimony from Indiana NORML Chairman Neil Smith, and members of the congregation. Curved Papers founder Michael O’Malley delivered an inspiring talk about the birth of a cannabis brand, and I was able to tell my personal story.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfGnKHeZpIM]
As we left Indiana, the congregants of the First Church of Cannabis are on pins and needles. (as we publish this, the Judge has pushed back the date to render her decision until July 9th).  Levin, ever the advocate for LOVE, told me that he is confident that history is on his side.

Stay tuned to these pages…