What will the marijuana economy look like in Michigan?

May 8, 2019 at 1:00 am
A recent belly dance class held at Flint's Vehicle City Social.
A recent belly dance class held at Flint's Vehicle City Social. Courtesy of Vehicle City Social Instagram

Marijuana has always been about a social scene, getting together with your friends and getting high. There are a ton of marijuana-related enterprises digging into that social aspect without all the political wrangling and about legislating a space for marijuana clubs.

It can be as simple as designating a marijuana-friendly room at any kind of event that normally goes on. Now that any adult 21 or over can use it in a private setting, any private event can be 420-friendly. This can ramp up to another level with vendors, specialty products, and more.

Not that marijuana clubs aren't on their way. Last week Colorado and Las Vegas passed laws allowing marijuana lounges to join Alaska with the policy. Activists in Michigan are working on the idea, but enterprising minds see opportunity.

Drummer Wayne Ramocan, who puts on shows with an organization called Decipher, has been checking it out and trying to figure out how to fit in. "Being a musician, I'm part of the nighttime economy," he says. "Marijuana is a 24-hour thing. I see that as a very lucrative business, to be in the 'lounge experience' type of setting. I think the cannabis industry has the capability to have a more sophisticated attitude. It's nighttime entertainment that I'm thinking of ... a party fully cannabis-friendly, vendors selling pre-rolls, edibles. I've seen it happen for years, at least on a small-business pop-up type of level."

It's another entry point to get into a marijuana-related enterprise in real time as the concept of a marijuana enterprise itself is being defined. It's not just about megabucks licenses to grow and sell the stuff. It's a new space where Collette Ramsey can create Kanna Biz TV and define herself as a cannabis conversationalist. If it's about the 24-hour economy, then maybe Ramocan can figure it out for 5 a.m. Michigan is the first state in the Midwest to legalize adult use, and it gives us a chance to make an impact in the bigger picture.

"I think we're the vanguard of things to come," says Ramocan. "Just as Detroit has been up front with urban farming, and community development stuff, and vehicles and music, I believe Detroit is the wave of the future for weed ... we're the vanguard of small business, women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, that shit is phenomenal in this city."

The drummer may seem exuberant, but it's an enthusiasm that seems to be sweeping across the state. At a Motor City NORML meeting over the weekend, it seemed that everyone there had some kind of enterprise they were there to advance or seek advice about. Parnell Lockheart was there talking about The Green Hub, his place on McNichols across the street from Marygrove College. He's trying to promote cannabis-friendly events at his place, which is a private retail business. There were questions for him about square footage and what size crowd it could handle.

Danielle Adams produces events such as weddings, parties, and fashion shows. She was there to dig deeper into the cannabis angle for her business Dope Girls Detroit.

Joe White, director of Motor City NORML, was excited about the Cannabis City project at Livernois and Lyndon announced last week. It's an industrial park with five grows, two processing centers, and a provisioning center. In addition, there will be a nearby marijuana business training center. Those are planned to be free of charge for folks with marijuana convictions. Part of the program will be working to get their convictions expunged.

A guy from THC123.com, a marijuana business and employee services company, was there talking about an event this weekend at Vehicle City Social in Flint featuring Danny Danko from High Times magazine and seed specialist DJ Short. There were even a couple of people there talking about small grows of high-CBD hemp as a business model. Interesting point there is that getting hemp-growing and -processing licenses is much easier and cheaper than getting a marijuana license. The whole shebang costs about $1,450.

All in all, there is plenty for people to be excited about as the cannabis enterprise landscape unfolds around here. It's not all high finance, state licenses, and moving massive amounts of product. Some of it is just socializing, making a few bucks doing what you've always done — without the anxiety of getting caught.

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