A Michigan Medical Marijuana card

How to Secure Your Michigan Medical Marijuana Card

So you have a health condition that’s bothering you and you’ve read about medical marijuana as a solution. It seems like something you want to try, but getting started isn’t obvious. With 11 new conditions in Michigan that qualify patients for a medical marijuana card, there’s no better time to give it a try.

If you want a Michigan Medical Marijuana card, here are eight things you need to do or keep in mind.

  1.     Review the list of conditions. You’ll need a diagnosis that meets the criteria that Michigan has approved. While some are very specific, pain is more general and it’s the most common ailment on the application form according to the State of Michigan.allowable conditions in Michigan for a medical marijuana card
  2.     Download and print the paperwork from LARA, the state licensing board.
  3.     Make an appointment with your physician. One of two things will happen next. You’ll go to your doctor and s/he will sign the paperwork and you’ll write the check for the filing fee ($60) and you’ll wait about three weeks and your card will come in the mail if you’re approved. A more common scenario is you’re reluctant to tell your physician you want to try medical marijuana or if you do ask, s/he refuses to sign the paperwork. There are other options, including physicians that are cannabis advocates who work in clinics that do this work for the good of the cannabis community. You’ll meet with her/him for a short examination and they’ll confirm your diagnosis and sign the paperwork for you. If you have access to any extras—xray results, physician notes, physical therapy notes bring those along. You need to show that you have the condition you claim to have. Some clinics will send it in for you, too, but we recommend you do this yourself so you know when it was mailed. Finding a clinic is as easy as web searching for Michigan Medical Marijuana card +your location.
  4.     You’ll be asked on the form about a caregiver. This is an individual who grows cannabis for patients. If you don’t have one, don’t check the box. Check the box that says I will possess the plants. That doesn’t mean you have to start growing, but you could if you wanted to. With your card that says NO CAREGIVER on the back, you’ll need A Michigan Medical Marijuana cardto visit a provisioning center for your meds. You can find one close to you on Leafly or Weedmaps. We have a blog post about how to visit a provisioning center.
  5.     Your card is good mostly in Michigan. There are a few states that allow reciprocity, but not many. The recreational states are, of course, open to anyone. But if you’re in Florida, you can’t use your Michigan card there. In Michigan though, medical cards from other states are allowed in some, but not all provisioning centers. Call ahead to make sure.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind as a holder of a new medical marijuana card.

 

  1.     If you’re traveling, keep in mind it’s a felony to bring cannabis across state lines. So, you have to leave your medication behind. The safest solution is to enjoy some of America’s recreational legal states map of colorado where they have both recreational and medical marijuana(Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia) until the whole country ends prohibition You can also head to Canada for a nice vacation, the whole country will be recreational legal starting on October 17, 2018. This also applies to people flying. While the TSA isn’t looking for cannabis, it is still illegal to bring it across state lines.
  2.     If you’re traveling around Michigan, keep your cannabis is the trunk of your car. Better yet, put it in a locked box in your trunk. Never leave it out in plain sight on the seat next to you. 
  3.     You can’t consume (smoke) your medication in a public place, in your car or in a hotel/motel. That’s limiting for sure. Edibles are super handy for travel or find friends who don’t mind if you consume.
pretty cannabis packaging on some chocolate

Be Amazing Inside and Out: Why Cannabis Packaging Matters

There’s nothing more appealing to a consumer than good packaging and fair pricing. Either by accident or intention, cannabis packaging in Michigan tends to fall short of that standard. We’ve seen bad knockoffs of popular candy brands, in both name and design and kid-friendly graphics. If the cannabis industry wants to be taken seriously, we need to present ourselves in a mature manner and product packaging and branding should reflect that.

When Michigan’s licensing entity LARA sent out guidelines recently about cannabis packaging, we were pleased to see that they are serious about making packaging unappealing to children.

Their cannabis packaging rules state:

No edible marihuana product can be in a shape, color, package, or labeled in a manner that it would appeal to minors aged 17 years or younger.

just say no to bad cannabis packaging like this lollipop
An orange lollipop with 35mg of THC.
an orange lollipop without childproof cannabis packaging
Easy to open by a kid or an adult.

No edible marihuana product can be associated with or have cartoons, caricatures, toys, colors, designs, shapes, labels, or package that would appeal to minors.

No edible marihuana product can be easily confused with commercially sold candy. The use of the word candy or candies on the packaging or labeling is prohibited.

An edible marihuana product must be in child-resistant packages or containers.

In Michigan cannabis is still medicine and is sold to adults (or to an adult for a card-holding minor). It needs packaging that acknowledges this but also remains appealing. Think about the over-the-counter drugs you might buy or herbal supplements. Those products have packaging that is professional, serious and not appealing to kids.

some child proof cannabis packagingCannabis edibles are an upscale product, they’re not inexpensive to purchase and the packaging should reflect the quality of the product contained inside. That’s not to say it has to be expensive or over-packaged, but it does need to be thoughtful in its presentation. People make decisions in a provisioning center based on several factors including price, a word of mouth recommendation, advice from the budtender behind the counter and the appearance of a package.

Studies show that the time slot in which a shelved product can capture the attention of a consumer is very short, one to two seconds. This is why it’s so important for cannabis packaging to be well-designed. You just don’t have that long to get someone’s attention.

good cannabis packaging from Northern LightsToday, brands across every sector are facing an increasingly competitive landscape and an increasingly sophisticated consumer. People tend to disregard mass brand communications in favor of more personalized messaging mediums. Packaging has the power to connect with the consumer to communicate a brand’s message on a physical and individual level.

How many times have you purchased a bottle of wine solely on your attraction to the label? Cannabis products should be thought of similarly. 

Smart packaging design is effective because, more than any other medium, it stays true to the product. It’s the main interface between a brand and consumer. Packaging conveys a host of messages that appeal to different consumers—both young and older, through elements of design such as naming, color, typography, graphics, structure and texture. We think Willie’s Reserve does this right.

cannabis packaging gone wrong, it's too attractive to kidsAn experienced designer can look at the product and create packaging that is sophisticated, appealing and true to the product inside. There’s really no reason that cartoons, colors and childish fonts need to be used in cannabis products. 

Packaging is part of a cannabis brand and being consistent is important.

Branding is one of the most important aspects of your cannabis business—whether you’re large, small, retail or business to business. Your brand is not just a logo, website, corporate identity or marketing collateral. It is your company’s personality. It’s your confidence, passion, action, voice, and set of values that make your company unique. Your brand needs to resonate with audiences in an emotive way. 

Quality cannabis packaging is a necessity.

Packaging design for the cannabis industry needs to be more than simply slapping a pot leaf or joint on a box. Now, more than ever, it’s critical to catch the consumer’s eye as the cannabis marketplace continues to evolve and competition grows.

If you need ideas or assistance with packaging design, Canna Communication can help. We understand the new Michigan rules and we know the art of packaging design.

a marijuana leaf, symbolizing michigan marijuana legalization

Why Michigan Marijuana Legalization is The Next Big Thing


Finally! The Michigan Board of Canvassers approved the signatures to move adult-use marijuana legalization to the ballot in November. This isn’t unexpected, though it felt the board was dragging its feet on approving this—the petitions for Michigan marijuana legalization were turned in last November and just approved in April. BUT, we’re not whining—we’re winning.

This is a Very Big Deal For Ending Marijuana Prohibition And Here’s Why.

Michigan, next to California is the most populous state considering legalization. California has a population of 39.5 million people and Michigan has 9.9 million residents. Keep in mind none of the other legal recreational states have a population the size of Michigan. Colorado has 5.6 million people, Washington 7.4 million, Oregon 4.1 million, Nevada 2.9 million and Alaska 739,000 and on the eastern side of the US: Vermont 620,000, Maine 1.3 million, Washington, DC 693,000 and Massachusetts 6.8 million.

Despite being a cul-de-sac state, we’re close to a lot of big population states and cities. Chicago, which is less than an hour drive away from our border has more than 2.6 million residents; and Illinois has 12 million people, Indiana has 6.6 million people, Ohio has 11.6 million residents and Wisconsin has 5.7 million residents. Added up, it gives Michigan easy access to 62 million people—who live within a half-day or less drive to the state borders. We certainly don’t think that all 62 million will flood in, but if the data holds, 52 percent of that 62 million might just stop in and check out our new industry.

summer in Michigan, soon a be a legal marijuana state if michigan marijuana legalization passesAnother thing that sets Michigan apart from other states that have adult use cannabis is that we are a major tourist state. A four-season tourism state. Pure Michigan spends $35 million on persuading people to visit our pleasant peninsula. Cannabis will be just one more reason for people to visit Michigan. We’ve seen models of cannabis tourism in Colorado, and there’s no reason to think that Michigan entrepreneurs won’t cash in on this industry. 

Michigan will be the first Midwestern state to legalize marijuana for adult use. It’s part of the normalization of cannabis that we’re seeing spread across the US. We expect the east and west coasts to be the most progressive and to imagine that Michigan will be the 10th state to legalize, well, that’s pretty exciting. It puts us in a league with other cool places like California, Oregon, Washington and Vermont. It also speaks to the hard work and will of citizens, gathering 277,000 petition signatures is no small feat and MILegalize and the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol deserve thanks for making that happen.

Michigan Marijuana Legalization Won’t be Easy.

Michigan’s marijuana legalization effort won’t be without a fight. There have been state-wide legalization efforts, like Arizona, which went up in smoke due to the well-funded opposition. We should expect a battle here in Michigan, too. Fighting against legalization in Arizona was pharmaceutical maker Insys and Discount Tire. They successfully moved public opinion against legalization. We understand conservative politics in Michigan and there’s no reason to think that well-heeled people won’t put their money behind stopping this. Just as supporters in Michigan have the Drug Policy Alliance and NORML as allies, the opposition is ready for the fight.

image of a cannabis leaf symbolizing michigan marijuana legalizationWe have public opinion on our side. From big national surveys like Gallup and Pew Research Center to Michigan’s own Epic MRA, we know that people are generally in favor of legalizing. This change in opinion comes from a few things. Medical marijuana is a great place to start getting people oriented to the plant and its uses. More often than not, people know people who have used cannabis for treating and illness. Between women who are fighting breast cancer and the effect of chemotherapy; to adults and children with epilepsy and veterans who are using cannabis for PTSD—there’s a growing number of people with medical marijuana cards—in Michigan about 218,556 cards. It means in all likelihood you or someone you know is using cannabis for one of the allowable ailments.  The more people that are willing to talk about consuming cannabis for health reasons, the more ordinary it will become to the people around them.

Science is also on our side. As more credible research is done and data is shared, we’ll see people begin to believe what we’ve known for some time—that cannabis is a helpful and life-changing plant. The recent findings in JAMA that showed a reduction in opioid addiction in cannabis legal states is one data set that we can turn to.

The Future is Bright, But we Need Everyone to do These Three Things.

1. Arm yourself with the facts and educate your neighbors, family and friends about cannabis. We provide factual information on this website and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Make sure your information is well-sourced, Leafly, High Times, The New York Times, CNN and Washington Post are great resources.

2. Support the cause with time and/or money. In Michigan, The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, MILegalize and Michigan NORML will need not only financial support but volunteer help. too. It’s important that each of us do something. If you have time, give it. If you have money, give some.

3. On November 6, 2018, you need to vote. You need to make sure no matter what is happening that day that you get to the polls and vote for Michigan marijuana legalization. Help people get to the polls if needed. Make sure everyone you know if registered to vote.

It will take all of us to give Michigan the number 10 spot in the US—it’s a spot we deserve.

photo of 2017 made by a sparkler

Looking at 2017’s Most Notable Marijuana News Events

It’s hard to say if this was a monumental year in marijuana news, but 2017 felt pretty good to us. There was a lot going on across the U.S. and in Michigan.

Here are our top ten most memorable news events in marijuana for the year.

10) California wildfires destroyed a significant amount of cannabis in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. While all wildfires are heartbreaking and painful for individuals, families and communities, this year’s fire in California was especially tough on cannabis growers. Fires that broke out just before harvest time destroyed or damaged an estimated 34 cannabis farms and tragically the crop is uninsured due to federal regulations. 

9) California, Nevada and Canada begin to implement adult-use legalization.  After voting in November 2016 to end cannabis prohibition, both California and Nevada started working toward creating their legal environments. We love the “get it done” spirit in Nevada—it managed to open dispensaries less than eight months after the vote. Its larger sister state, California will end cannabis prohibition on January 1, 2018. Canadians from Nunavut to Saskatchewan will have access to cannabis starting in the coming summer, thanks to some hard work by the government in 2017.

8) Cheers to 360,000+ Michigan citizens who signed petitions for adult-use cannabis legalization. Volunteers and paid solicitors from MILegalize and the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol secured 100,000 more signatures than required and validation of signatures is underway through the Board of Canvassers. We hope it will clear the board and go to voters in 2018. We expect the vote to be positive.

7) Jeff Sessions was appointed attorney general of the U.S. This is a dark mark on cannabis. The AG is a long-time hater of cannabis and will do what he can to ensure prohibition doesn’t end. The upside of this story is we have a dysfunctional Congress, he has a volatile boss and there are 29 states with some sort of marijuana laws on the books, which is going to make DEA intervention difficult. Public opinion is changing, too. A recent Gallup poll showed that 60 percent of Americans favor cannabis legalization.

6) Colorado marked its 5th year of adult use legalization and the sky didn’t fall. In speaking with the CBC, the head of Colorado’s Department of photo of a colorado map and notebookPublic Health Dr. Larry Wolk said this: “The short answer is we have not seen much. We have not experienced any significant issues as a result of legalization. I think a lot of people think when you legalize you are going from zero to some high use number, but they forget that even when marijuana is not legal, one in four adults and one in five kids are probably using on a somewhat regular basis. What we’ve found since legalization is that those numbers haven’t really changed.”

5) The American Legion came out for cannabis. The venerable veterans organization is requesting further research regarding PTSD and traumatic brain injury and cannabis. Many veterans find cannabis to be a successful alternative to psychotropic drugs. Officials at the national American Legion are asking the federal government to allow Veterans Administration (VA) physicians to speak freely about medical marijuana to their patients. Presently, physicians are prohibited from talking about the plant as an option. The Legion with more than 14,000 posts nationwide has great potential to change public policy.

4) Northern Michigan University announced a marijuana major. Students wildcat logo for Northern Michigan Universitywill be able to major in medicinal plant chemistry at NMU, which offers America’s only bachelor’s degree in cannabis program. CH420 isn’t a slacker program though, it requires 120 credits of chemistry, biology, soils, genetics accounting and financial management classes. Its grads are bound to be in high demand. Way to go Wildcats!

3) Marijuana as a gateway out of opioid addiction. Opioid overdoses killed more 64,000 Americans in 2016 and that number is expected to increase this year. More and more research is leading the medical profession to look at marijuana as a gateway out of addiction to powerful painkillers. While more research needs to be done, marijuana shows promise in doing less harm and more good for patients with chronic pain. And you can’t overdose on marijuana.

2) Licensing for medical marijuana began in Michigan this year. It was a rough and tumble year in Lansing as LARA, the state’s regulating entity rolled out its rules on issuing licenses for people who want to grow, process, rotunda of the Michigan Capital Building in Lansing test, transport or provision medical marijuana. Dispensaries were threatened with closure by a state board, politicians stepped up to keep them open, liquid capital rates were set, municipalities opted in or out, and application materials were created. The licensing portal opened on December 15 and now we wait to see who will be first to show off their piece of legal paperwork.

1) Projections for cannabis job growth will exceed manufacturing by 2022. It’s an understatement to say that marijuana is a growth industry in that there are already 100,000 to 150,000 marijuana workers and about 90,000 people work in plant touching businesses. Cannabis and its ancillary businesses have created 43,000 full-time jobs in California, 23,000 in Colorado and 22,000 Washington.  Michigan is the second largest medical marijuana state (next to California) and should have similar numbers for jobs when licenses are issued in this spring.

We look forward to the promise of a new year and all that it brings to cannabis-friendly people everywhere!

photo of a bowl with medical cannabis flowers and three well-rolled joints

What’s on Your Cannabis Christmas Wish List? Here’s Ours.

 

Dear Santa,

Here’s our cannabis Christmas wish list for this year.  We know it looks long. But seriously, we’re not bogarting—we’re asking for these things for the good of the world and all of humanity.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration.

The (nice) Women of Canna Communication

Here’s what we want:
  • America to be more like Canada when it comes to marijuana. Imagine, a whole country (other than Uruguay at present) that doesn’t prohibit cannabis.
  • Just like Martha, Snoop and Anthony Bourdain, everyone should be able to be able to roll a good joint. It’s a skill anyone can master with a image of cannabis flowers and three jointslittle practice. 
  • People to stop calling cannabis a gateway drug. There’s no science to this myth, and truly, cannabis helps people get off of opioids.
  • Michigan citizens to come out in force in November 2018 and vote to end cannabis prohibition in our great state. We’ve been a medical marijuana state for nearly a decade, adult-use legalization is the natural next step.
  • The cannabis industry to stop objectifying women. Stop with the bikinis and boobs. Please. It doesn’t increase the seriousness of our cause.
  • Michigan to expand its criteria for medical marijuana qualification and include autism and PTSD. There’s research showing these conditions deserve inclusion.
  • All our clients to be successful in their endeavor to apply for a medical marijuana facility license.
  • More Michigan municipalities to be open to having marijuana businesses. Patients shouldn’t have to travel across the state for their medicine. There should be a provisioning center in every Michigan county.
  • All cities in Michigan decriminalize marijuana possession. There are far too many people in prison for marijuana charges, and more often than not, they’re people of color.
  • People to regard marijuana entrepreneurs as they do craft brewers. It wasn’t that long ago alcohol was prohibited and now it’s celebrated colorful beer bottle caps on a display boardand brewers are vital to economic growth in some communities.
  • Small cannabis businesses to find a place in Michigan’s new medical marijuana licensing structure, so caregivers can continue to do what they do best.
  • Jeff Sessions to get with the science about marijuana and the people who use it. We are good people.
  • All the puns about marijuana to stop, or at least be limited to one per conversation.
  • Cannabis to be removed from Schedule I classification. This classification dates to the 1970s and the Nixon administration and was created to disrupt the lives of people of color and anti-war protestors.
  • Everyone who uses marijuana or supports people who do, to speak up about the power of the plant and how it has helped improve their health and happiness.

PS: Thanks to everyone who has supported Canna Communication in 2017. We look forward to a great 2018 with you.

Tami VandenBerg Appointed to MI Legalize Board

We were thrilled to help our friend, Tami VandenBerg, announce this great news today. We’d like to extend our congrats to Tami on this appointment. We know that she will do great things in this new capacity.

Grand Rapids community activist and business owner Tami VandenBerg was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of MI Legalize, a political organization that aims to end cannabis prohibition in Michigan. Presently MI Legalize is leading a coalition that is circulating petitions for adult-use cannabis in Michigan.

Vandenberg is well known for her outspoken views regarding cannabis and helped create the successful campaign that decriminalized marijuana in the City of Grand Rapids in 2012. In addition to her cannabis activism, she is the co-owner (with her brother) of two successful businesses—The Meanwhile and The Pyramid Scheme. She also serves as the executive director of Well House, a nonprofit that provides permanent housing for people who have been homeless. She is a former Board Chair of The Red Project in Grand Rapids.

“There is a startling amount of money spent on cannabis prohibition—millions in Michigan and billions across the United States and the ROI is dismal. It’s time to end prohibition and spend our tax dollars in a more productive manner,” said VandenBerg.

“When I was a social worker, maybe 15 years ago, I was trying to help a woman find housing and a job— and the more we talked the more I understood that it was just a small marijuana infraction that stood between her and having a place to live and finding meaningful work. She also shared with me that her three brothers were incarcerated for marijuana possession and it had torn their family apart. It was obvious to me then, that marijuana laws were applied differently to people of color and that still exists today,” VandenBerg said. According to the ACLU black people in Kent County are 7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

“Tami brings an entrepreneurial lens, experience and a passion for fundraising. She understands how to run a persuasive campaign and her ability to organize and engage in outreach especially in West Michigan is critical to the statewide presence of this campaign. Her leadership qualities add to the strength of MI Legalize as we build a diverse unity coalition to succeed at the ballot. We’re pleased to have her joining us,” said Jeffrey Hank, chair of the MI Legalize Board of Directors.

In addition to her work, VandenBerg has been the recipient of numerous awards including: six years on Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list and four times on the publication’s 50 Most Influential Women list. She is the 2017 distinguished alumnus for the 40 Under 40 Award. She has been honored with awards from the American Institute of Architects, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and the West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, and YNPN, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. Well House has also won numerous community awards for its work.

7 Facts About Michigan and Marijuana You Need to Know

  1. Michigan has been a medical marijuana state for almost a decade. The proposal to give Michigan citizens the right to buy and use medical marijuana came to the ballot on November 4, 2008, the same
    Cartoon of the state of Michigan wearing a winter hat.
    If you seek a pleasant peninsula look about you.

    year that President Barack Obama was first elected. It was an overwhelming victory for marijuana in the state with 63 percent of voters filling in the yes bubble, and 37 percent voting no. There were more people who wanted medical marijuana than voted for Obama, who scored 57 percent of the votes.

  2. Marijuana is decriminalized in some Michigan cities, but not all. While the regulations vary, there are quite a few cities in Michigan that don’t punish people for having small amounts of marijuana. They include Ann Arbor, which decriminalized way back in 1972. Other cities with decriminalization include: Berkley, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, East Lansing, Saginaw and Ypsilanti. Pleasant Ridge has an ordinance that makes marijuana possession a low priority for police.
  3. Ann Arbor’s Hash Bash is one of the oldest events in the country that
    Man dressed like Jesus at Hash Bash, giving away Michigan marijuana
    It’s a good day when Jesus gives you a joint at Hash Bash.

    celebrates cannabis freedom. The first event was held on April 1, 1972 and it’s been held almost every year since on the first Saturday of April at high noon on the University of Michigan diag. At Hash Bash you’ll find music, speeches and a group fire-up with about 10,000 other cannabis fans.

  4. If you want to be in the cannabis business in Michigan (as in applying for a license later this year) you’ll need to have lived in Michigan for at least two years and be of good moral character, actually, poor moral character will be held against you. If you have a grade school good citizenship award, find it now.
  5. Michigan pretty much has an average possession weight for its medical marijuana patients (2.5 ounces) when compared to other states. Hats off to Oregon for upping the average with its 24-ounce limit! As Michigan moves closer to an adult-use ballot measure and when it passes (November of 2018) people will be able to buy 2.5 ounces, too. Consistency is a good thing.
  6. Michigan has 218,566 card-carrying medical marijuana patients and 38,057 caregivers, aka growers. Proportionally the up north county of Montmorency (near the tip of the mitten and east of I-75 has the highest number of cardholders, with 45.1 of every 1,000 residents having a card to buy or possess cannabis plants. Just to the east and south a bit, Kalkaska County has 44.7 cardholders per 1,000 people. Ottawa County, they’re pretty healthy or a bit buttoned up when it comes to cannabis, with 11.8 patient cards per 1,000 people.
  7. In Michigan, our government spells marihuana with an h, as in marihuana not marijuana. This is an older spelling, which dates back to the 1930s and has a complicated and somewhat racist history from after Spanish-American War and resentment toward Mexicans and Mexican immigrants. Anti-Mexican propaganda and cannabis prohibition went hand-in-hand using the word marihuana instead of cannabis, which seemed more sinister. For Michigan, it’s simply consistent with the public health code, which uses an old-timey h instead of a j.

What is it About a Marijuana Dispensary?

As Michigan moves toward medical marijuana licensing in December, municipalities are determining if they want an ordinance allowing marijuana businesses in their jurisdiction. Any city, village or township can adopt an ordinance to allow medical marijuana businesses to operate, or they can do nothing, in which case businesses cannot locate there. To have a business, there needs to be a zoning ordinance.

Communities around Michigan hearing from advocates and opponents. This opt in/opt out process is a good way for cannabis champions and entrepreneurs to build a case for medical marijuana.

chalkboard menu in a dispensary
(Ok, so strain names don’t help with cannabis credibility).

Over the last few months, we’ve observed a worrisome public view of dispensaries. It seems that these retail entities are the target of scorn and blame about all things perceived as negative about cannabis.

Through no fault of their own, Michigan dispensaries are unlicensed, unregulated and seemingly unwanted by everyone other than their patients. Police shut them down on a regular basis and a member of the MMFLA board announced in July he’d like to see them all gone by September 15. Luckily, that decision was not in his purview—and the shops that provide specific and vital medicine to thousands of patients are still open for business until December 15, unless a bill moving through the House and Senate is approved. This important bill would block dispensary closure.

What is it about Marijuana dispensaries that troubles people?

cannabis flowerPerhaps is it the obviousness of a storefront dispensary that bothers people. It’s one thing to quietly acknowledge that more than 280,000 Michigan residents hold cards and use medical marijuana, it’s another to see a store in your local business district. There it is, in plain sight, where people might have to address their personal biases about marijuana use, confront outdated viewpoints and possibly say not in my back yard. There is no shame in cannabis provisioning and a regulated, secure dispensary should be treated with the same respect as any small business operation.

Negative attitudes might also rest with people not believing that marijuana is medicine. Either from personal-use experience or having been fed propaganda about cannabis, some individuals have difficulty suspending the belief that marijuana is simply getting high. For people with Crohn’s Disease, epilepsy, PTSD, chronic pain and cancer, it’s anything but recreational. Marijuana is a life-saving and life-improving medicine.  

Locked Up and Safer Than a Liquor Store

Here’s what shouldn’t trouble people—that your kids or a stoner who wants to party can walk in and obtain marijuana at a dispensary near you. In Michigan, a dispensary requires all people who enter the premises do so with a state issued card to buy medicine. No one, other than a card-carrying patient (with a matching photo ID) can legally go beyond the lobby of a dispensary. In most facilities you can’t even see products until you’re admitted.

Dispensaries are truly not a threat to any community, but an asset to people needing medicine.

The Time to act is now!

People have the opportunity to do three things to help make change: 1) Contact your local municipality and see where they stand on a medical marijuana ordinance, let them know why you think medical marijuana businesses are good for your community. 2) Call your Michigan State Representative or Senator and ask for their support of HB# 5014 to keep Michigan’s dispensaries open. 3) Post your views and story about cannabis on your social network with the hashtag #bebraveforcannabis

Be Brave for Cannabis Campaign Gets Political

The Be Brave For Cannabis social campaign is getting political with the addition of a House Bill written by State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor). The bill, which has bipartisan support, was created to prevent Michigan’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries from being shut down by licensing delays. Be Brave for Cannabis is encouraging people to share to create and share their ‘be brave’ social media videos or posts with legislators and to reach out by phone and in person to encourage support of the bill. The hashtag  #bebraveforcannabis is used for the effort.

Last year, the legislature passed bills to license medical marijuana businesses giving local governments control over whether to allow such licensed facilities to operate in their municipalities. However, the bills did not specify a process for licensing established medical marijuana businesses. The Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Board said recently that existing businesses must close by December 15, 2017, if they want to seek licensure. Because license applications will not be accepted before that date, provisioning businesses will be forced to shut down for an indefinite period while applications are processed.

Rep. Rabhi’s bill establishes a timeframe for processing the license applications of existing medical marijuana businesses and allows existing businesses to continue operating while their applications are processed. The bill also clarifies those existing businesses that apply before February will not be barred from licensure solely on account of having operated without a municipal enabling ordinance before this became a requirement. Municipalities retain control over whether to allow licensed medical marijuana facilities.

The time is now to harness the power of social media and encourage everyone to use it as a platform to really put a voice of support out for this bill. We also want them to encourage their audiences to be brave and do the same. Medical marijuana patients have kept quiet for years and now is the time to let elected officials understand the demand that truly exists within their communities.

“We’re asking the 240,000 people in Michigan who hold medical marijuana cards to contact their representatives in the Michigan legislature. It’s more important than ever that people have a voice on this important legislative issue. Dispensaries provide vital cannabis medication for thousands of patients in Michigan and leaving them without access for what might be several months is a punishment they don’t deserve,” said Roberta F. King of Canna Communication.

About Be Brave For Cannabis

The social media campaign, Be Brave for Cannabis was created to give people a platform and community for their support of cannabis use. Whether people are patients, recreational users or simply against cannabis prohibition #bebraveforcannabis is a place for standing up and speaking out. More information at www.bebraveforcannabis.com.

Michigan Medical Marijuana: What Happens if You Don’t Ask.

We recently did some work for a client who wanted to know which municipalities around the Muskegon area were adopting pro-medical marijuana ordinances. As Michigan moves toward licensing cannabis businesses at the end of 2017, the process for those who want to grow, transport, process, test or operate a dispensary, marijuana licensing begins with the approval of local cities, villages or townships.

To say the least, there are many municipalities in Michigan. Muskegon County alone has 27. We also included in our research, nearby counties—cherry-picking the larger cities and villages. In all, we contacted about 35 mayors, managers, supervisors and planning leaders.

yes, no, maybe

Some of our responses were pointed: “No.” You can tell from that sort of response that digging deeper is a lost cause. Asking the commission/council if they are interested in learning more about medical marijuana is going to elicit the same response.

This example was an interesting take on how it was handled: “[name redacted] Township is not considering opting into a medical marijuana ordinance. This question was posed, along with others, in a recent survey the township included with summer tax bills. Sixty-six percent of respondents were not in favor of such an ordinance in Township.” I give them credit for having a discussion and a proxy vote.

In our research, we found at least four communities that were taking a wait and see approach. They’re giving it a year or so to see how things work out around the state. We discovered three municipalities that were actively in the processes of moving ordinances forward. One we knew about, the other two were surprises—and right between the two surprise locations was another municipality that sent me its ordinance banning everything but using medical marijuana in your own home!

help from our friends

Intel from another municipality in Newaygo County came from an Iraq war veteran. He told me of his struggle to convince his fellow commissioners to accept medical marijuana businesses in their community. After an hour and a half discussion, he was voted down. His was only yes vote. He directed me to two other locations where the sentiments were more cannabis-friendly in that county. He was spot on.

My point here is—if you don’t ask you’ll never know the reality of a situation and asking can make a difference. Three separate municipalities gave me strong “maybe” responses. They told me they were looking into it, and talking with their local health departments, police chiefs and would like more information. Where are the marijuana advocates in those places?

To those who want to have medical marijuana in their communities—now is the time to act. This issue isn’t dead and isn’t impossible, but you have to show up and speak out.  If you are a patient, the time to call or email your commission/council is now.

If you want to create a medical marijuana business where you live or nearby—timing is everything and time itself is running out.