District attorney George Gascón claims that his office is in the process of expunging over 9,000 cannabis related convictions. The office is not working alone to get this accomplished. Code for America is a non-profit organization focused on using open source technology. Over the past year, they have been working together to identify eligible cases. Some of these eligible cases date as far back as 1975. Computer-based algorithms were used to locate cases that qualify. All of this started to come together with the passing of Proposition 64 in 2016. It was mentioned in the legalization bill that records could be expunged for crimes that are now legal.
Interestingly, San Francisco is the first city in the country to identify all eligible convictions. The proposition allowed for expungement for records, yet didn’t lay out a process. If the district attorney didn’t take this initiative, very few would ever see their records adjusted. This is because clients would have to hire their own attorney’s and pay court costs. Many of these people do not have the means to do that. The drug war disproportionately affects those of the lower economic class. It’s great to see someone high-ranking in law enforcement make the initiative to do the right thing. He definitely is going above and beyond his job description.
The software used by Code for America has been so successful that
Gascón is urging other state prosecutors to implement it. 10 states and the District of Columbia have implemented recreational marijuana laws. There is no reason why this technology isn’t being used to clear convictions across the country. If over 9,000 people can have their records expunged in one city, imagine how many others there are nationwide. Gascón understands the severe lifelong penalties that come with a criminal record. Nobody should be excluded from things like receiving a loan or owning a firearm for doing something that is now legal. When laws change, it should be up to the government to make things right. Citizens shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer and go through the lengthy process themselves.
For us Lions fans, Calvin Johnson was always a shining light among a disappointing football franchise. He was consistently making big-time plays but never experienced any super bowl appearances with the Lions. I’m sure the team’s performance was a key reason why he decided to retire at the age of 30. It appears after his retirement in 2016, he has been working on entering the cannabis industry in his team’s home state. More specifically, he wants to operate in the town of Webberville. He submitted his application back in December. This was very early on, when the state had just started accepting them.
At first the state had denied his application. The reason for his denial was the presence of unpaid traffic tickets. This minor issue was quickly handled by Johnson, and now he is officially pre-approved to operate in the state. However, receiving a pre-approval is not the same thing as being licensed to operate. The state of Michigan receives the original application and licensing fees from potential businesses. After that, it is up to the local government to grant final approval to someone. So Johnson will have to wait until the local board from Webberville gives him the thumbs up to celebrate. Communities that do not want cannabis businesses operating in their jurisdiction can vote to ban them. Even towns and cities that allow them to operate, can still choose to approve or deny specific applications.
I’m sure Calvin Johnson is thrilled to hear about his pre-approval for a number of reasons. The barriers to entry for new businesses in the industry are extremely high. Especially for someone who does not currently own a medical marijuana facility. Applicants have to be applying for a specific location, so they must already own the property they are applying for. That is very risky because if denied, all the costs to obtain that property would have been for nothing. Applicants must also pay for thousands of dollars in licensing fees when they submit their information. Obviously, none of this is a problem for an athlete like Johnson. However it would stop many potential business owners.
Calvin Johnson is clearly looking to vertically integrate his medical cannabis operation. He didn’t just apply for a license to sell it. Instead, he applied for a license to cultivate, process, and sell it at the retail level. The state requires a separate license for each step in the process, leading many to focus on a specialized approach. He wants his business to be as self-sustainable and profitable as possible. He has a large amount of available investment money, so it only makes sense to grow and process your own supply. Growers with a high-quality product will definitely be charging a steep wholesale price in the beginning stages of legalization. Being pre-approved this early has Calvin in a great position to establish roots in the newly regulated industry.
When a state decides to legalize cannabis, there is always a waiting period before it can be sold. Michigan is currently going through that phase. For some people, they see this unique time as an opportunity to cash in. There is a large demand for an unavailable legal product. In addition, the law is also written to include marijuana gifts as a legal transaction. One bookstore in Michigan has decided to absorb the legal demand for marijuana through gifting. The idea is a customer can purchase books for a higher than normal price, and receive a free edible with their transaction. Michigan Blaze calls it a Brownie Edible Book Bundle.
The bundle appears to be advertised online on the companies website. This will no doubt drive all kinds of business their way. It may seem like a new intelligent idea, but it has been done before with a wide variety of products. Gray area businesses like these are popping up in every state that legalizes cannabis. It is a blatant way to try and skirt around the law and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Nobody is fooled by the fact that cheap books are being sold for abnormal prices that more than cover the costs of cannabis. Especially when it is openly advertised that anyone over 21 can only acquire weed gifts from your business. Short-term it will be great for profits, but long-term it could cost big time.
Another thing to take into consideration is that dispensaries will be operating sometime in 2020. Even if these types of businesses manage to avoid prosecution, they won’t be around long anyway. Legal dispensaries are going to absorb the customers that are buying unnecessary books for a buzz. Prices will be more reasonable because businesses will not need to throw in a book with their weed sale. For me, it makes more sense to run a book store that includes a smoking/reading area. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that could open for business tomorrow. Permits eventually will be available for public smoking areas though. If gray area businesses like Blaze Michigan can wait, it’s a great way to indirectly cash in on this thriving industry without the jail time.
Governor Matt Bevin was asked about his stance on cannabis this week. He was speaking at a community event and explained how personal the topic is for him. During his answer, he clearly stated that cannabis has medicinal benefits for many people. At one point he got very emotional and mentioned his young nephew who fought and died from cancer. Unfortunately, countless other people are going through a similar situation. Legally, they can only rely on dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. He realizes that, and claims he will support a well-written bill. It was stressed during his talk that the main goal shouldn’t be to raise tax money.
Kentucky is one of the few remaining states without an active medical marijuana program. The southern states are notorious for their history of harsh marijuana laws. Cannabis has a much more negative stigma among the general population. States like Kentucky are not known for being progressive with any of their laws. Conservatives hold control of the state government and the population of voters is also strongly republican. However, medical marijuana is one of the rare topics that both democrats and republicans can agree on. Now that more then half the country has legalized medical marijuana, they are finally taking steps in the right direction.
Also this past week, a medical marijuana bill was introduced by Senator Stephen West. A lot of the rules drafted in the bill are likely to change before it has the chance to pass into law. It is very early on in the process, but still very promising. The timing is perfect with the Governor making his pro-cannabis remarks. One thing to keep in mind is that Bevin is not a supporter of recreational marijuana use. My guess is that more then half the country will need to have legalized cannabis before Kentucky reconsiders. However, anything is better then their current laws.
The regulatory authority in charge of the medical marijuana industry in Michigan is LARA (The department of licensing and regulatory affairs). Currently, they are proposing a new set of rules. According to Michigan.gov, cardholders can expect a 33% reduction in their state application fee. In addition, officials aim to eliminate various other processing charges. The goal of the new rules is to cut costs for patients. The administration drafted these changes shortly after expanding their available online services. Instead of increasing profits, they openly passed on the savings.
The state has been lacking when it comes to licensing businesses in a timely fashion. However, they have a solid system available to patients and caregivers. Online services mentioned earlier include : ability to submit application online, check status of application, renew or replace cards, remove caregivers, and withdrawal from the program. Hopefully it will incentivize more people to renew. It will be easy for many to simply let their card expire, now that weed is legal. Possesion limits remain the same unless you’re a caregiver. The patient-caregiver system is great, and I hope it continues to thrive. It promotes the small batch craft cannabis growers.
Proposed Rule Changes
All of the changes seem to benefit registered patients. The key changes include:
- Changing the application fee from $60 to $40.
- Eliminate $25 caregiver background check fee.
- Eliminate $10 Change form fee(replace card fee).
- Extends the renewal period from 60 days to 90 days.
- Allows MMMP staff to contact patients/caregivers by e-mail to increase response speed.
- Allow patients to change the person authorized to posses plants at any time.
Michigan passed medical marijuana in 2008, and dispensaries were not legally operating at the time. The regulatory system has been in place over 10 years. Each year they’ve improved and now it seems the state has mastered the administrative role. Hopefully in a few years we will say the same thing about commercial licensing. No one here is an expert at regulating this plant, so trial and error should be expected. Those getting into the industry right off the bat need to be ready for unexpected rules and procedures.
A public hearing will be scheduled next month and hear the communities opinion on the proposed changes. LARA will not make any of these changes before the hearing.
Many cannabis consumers are going to be shocked to realize their pot smoking might make them eligible for some cash back from the government. Canada legalized weed nationwide and it’s the second country in the world to do it. Even so, for them to return millions of tax dollars back to smokers sounds too good to be true. However, the Canada Revenue Agency considers cannabis to be a permitted medical expense. Some canadians can include cannabis on tax returns. Those looking to cash in need to meet several specific conditions before anything can be written off. First, the person using marijuana needs to prove they possess a prescription to use the drug from their licensed physician. If you’re a recreational user, then kiss that money spent on weed goodbye. The CRA is not going to refund everyone in the country that wants to get high, regardless of how much money in taxes they are pulling in.
The second obstacle to obtaining a tax retun for weed is showing it comes from a licensed producer. Buying from unlicensed distributors means the government isn’t going to receive their tax. This never makes them happy. It certainly will not make them want to give you additional deductibles. So if it isn’t a habit already, start saving all the receipts from the provisioning center. The payback is going to be huge for daily users. It will also highlight how much of the yearly budget goes to the sweet leaf. Once that realization is made, many begin to grow. That realization is what helped me get started, outside of my intense interest.
All medical marijuana expenses cannot be written off. Canada gives patients the option to subtract either a number or percentage from the total expense. Options include subtracting $2,268 or 3% of the user’s net income. So if you make more then roughly $74,000/yr you would opt to subtract the $2268 from the yearly expense. Everyone else could benefit by subtracting a substantially smaller amount. Someone making 40,000/yr only needs to reduce $1200 from their yearly cannabis expense.
Despite all the restrictions, it still seems like a fair deal for the Canadian people. It likely will be a really long time before the U.S. refunds anybody for pot. Becoming federally legal for medical purposes is the first hurdle. People all across our country are purchasing medicine from licensed producers. The blatant difference is the federal government sees them as criminals instead of patients.
As the laws around cannabis continue to change in the right direction, it is being put under the spot light for a lot of people who have never even considered being associated with the plant. There is also a huge majority of people that have experimented with the drug but would have never tried learning to grow before it became legal. The demand for growing information seems to be higher then it ever has been, especially here in Michigan. Now that there is legal protection to cultivate your own medicine/product, it only makes sense to reduce or even eliminate future purchases. Growing your own plants and enjoying the harvest is one of the most rewarding things imaginable. Watching the entire process happen and the plants mature into months worth of usable product is always worth the work. High quality cannabis is extremely valuable and will drain your wallet if you are purchasing it regularly. If you’re willing to put in the time and have the space, all you’re missing is a consultant.
My indoor growing consultation service is now available to those in the southeastern region of Michigan. With over 4 years of medical marijuana growing experience and a passion for writing and reading about the culture of cannabis, I am confident I can save you from the endless hours of research and disappointing harvests. Trial and error is not a fun process, especially when you’re expecting to come out with the craft cannabis on the top shelf at the dispensary. Walking you step by step through the method that has brought me great success will have you on the right track and informed so it’s easy to make the correct adjustments when needed. Anybody can grow weed, but growing high quality weed that is packed full of flavor is a unique skill.
How it Works
It simply is not possible to give all the information needed up front in the initial consultation. There are going to be countless questions that come along throughout the growing process. My relationship with customers will be ongoing and continue as long as the customer wishes. Charges are based on an hourly rate and are reduced as a grower gains ability.
In-home consultations before first harvest: $35/hr
Consultations after 1st harvest : $25/hr
Looking forward to a successful grow with you!
Contact Cultivation Agent
Here in Michigan, Oakland County is well known for its anti-marijuana reputation. Officials has routinely raided any type of medical marijuana provisioning center that has opened in it’s jurisdiction. This has a lot to do with the county sheriff, and former attorney general Bill Schuette. When these raids happened, the state was not offering licenses for dispensaries to operate. Dispensaries were simply operating based off the local governments approval. In Oakland County, the interpretation of the law was always that patients could only obtain cannabis from their registered caregiver and that caregivers may only support 5 patients. So any establishment providing medicine to more then the same 5 registered patients, was violating the law in their eyes and worthy of a large amount of police resources. This approach caused a large cluster of shops to open up shop in Detroit, outside of Oakland County.
Now that the state of Michigan is issuing licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate, one CEO has his eyes on Oakland County. Greenhouse is the name of the dispensary that has been approved, and it opened it’s doors to patients on February 1st. It’s located in Walled Lake and the owners are not worried about dealing with law enforcement because they plan on strictly following every rule and regulation. If the state doesn’t start licensing more cultivators, then running a successful business will be difficult for them. Especially with all the unlicensed dispensaries being given an extension to operate until their applications begin to be processed. However, I think that Greenhouse is still in a very good position to be successful because of its location. There is a lot of money in Oakland County and many residents who have been driving to Detroit will happily make the switch locally.
With the recreational use of cannabis being legalized last November, there will be even more of an opportunity for Greenhouse to be successful. This licensed facility will already have the majority of the resources needed when the time comes to apply for recreational licenses in a year or two. The recreational licenses will be much harder to obtain for those who want to start from scratch before legal sales begin. It took Michigan 10 years before they created a regulated system for medical marijuana sales, so it has to be much quicker this time around. Regulators have got to be feeling the pressure now. Voters have made it clear it’s time to draft policies outside of prohibition.
One problem the store will likely have to deal with is an overflow of patients. Improvising a balanced system that efficiently process each person without making them feel rushed is key. Nobody will want to come back if they feel like they can’t make the proper decision due to pressure. I wouldn’t want to be the one creating the forecast for their first year of operation, as there are no similar businesses to base numbers off of. Luckily for Greenhouse, it will likely take a while before another store successfully obtains a license in any county the way things have been going. They really need to capitalize on the lack of local competition, so they can invest later on when the competition comes. It will be easy to differentiate their brand if they receive a big enough head start. Before we know it Oakland County will be an place of opportunity for these entrepreneurs instead of an area of restricted access. Those who took the risk years ago in this county have to be shaking their heads wishing they had waited for this profitable and legal opportunity.