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Michigan News - December 2019



Recreational Marijuana
Sales Begin in Michigan


December 1st, 2019, marked the birth of retail marijuana sales in the state of Michigan.  Six shops were open and operating on the day.  Four Ann Arbor locations, Arbors Wellness, Exclusive Ann Arbor, Greenstone Provisions, and Skymint.  Meanwhile two small towns placed themselves on the map with Lit Provisioning Center in Evart, and Stateline Wellness in Morenci, being the only recreational locations outside of Ann Arbor.

News outlets covered the massive lines and people camped out just to purchase legal weed on the first day.  Arbors Wellness gave the honor of first customer to long time Michigan marijuana activist and MM Report columnist John Sinclair.  It was an historic day for marijuana legalization and the state of Michigan, and sales for the day ended at $221,000, not including $22,100 paid to the state for the 10% excise tax, or the 6% sales tax which totalled $14,586.




Ohio Police Keeping One
Eye on Michigan


In what may be a strategic move, Ohio law-enforcement officials have stated they have “no specific plans” to crack down or monitor more closely the border between Michigan and Ohio.

“We’re not going to profile people.  We’re going to just do our jobs,” were the words of Robert Cornwell, executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association.  “And as we stop people for probable cause, we’ll look to seach and go from there.”

He does admit that officers around the state will not be able to ignore Michigans legal cannabis market, saying it was a “given fact” that more Ohians will inevitably be bringing more pot home from their northern neighbor.  “It makes us more attuned to watch for individuals coming into Ohio with illegal substances,” he furthered, “I think it will be in officer’s minds.”

Lt. Robert Sellers, a spokesman for the Ohio State Highway Patrol also stated his organization had nothing planned as far as policing the Michigan border.  Although he added, “We do continue to moniter what is occuring in other states to ensure our troopers have the information they need to make sound enforcement decisions.”


Recreational Prices Raise
Black Market Concerns

While marijuana is now recreationally legal for anyone 21 and up and available for purchase in select retail locations, consumers are being met with exhorbitant prices.  Ranging from $50-$70 for an eighth (approximate ‘street’ price $20-30) and ounces breaching $400 after taxes (an approximate street value of around $200).  

Medicinal marijuana prices had managed to meet those of the unregulated market in recent years, with patients able to purchase flower at $5-10 a gram.  One year from the day, licensed medicinal facilities now charge on average twice as much as an equivalent bag of weed on the street would cost.  ‘Adult-use’ marijuana users pay these prices, plus 6% sales tax, plus 10% excise tax.

According to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, black market sales in California still outnumbered sactioned ones, nearly two years after legalization.  Citing prices, but also availability as the reasoning, both issues Michigan now shares. 


Vape Sales Halted, Vitamin E
Acetate Testing Begins

After a string of recent lung illnesses related to vaping sparked a media frenzy, state officials placed a temporary ban on all sales of THC cartridges.  Vitamin E Acetate has been identified as the culprit and regulations now require all cartridges be tested to ensure they do not contain the substance.

DL-Alpha tocopheryl acetate, otherwise known as Vitamin E Acetate or pure vitamin E oil, is a stable form of Vitamin E used primarily in skin care and cosmetic products.  Having never been inhaled prior to being placed in vape cartridges, this beneficial product protects cell membranes from damage by oxygen free radicals, as well as preventing premature aging due to UV rays.  It is readily available at drug and vitamin stores, billed as supporting immune and antioxidant health as well as being “pure enough to swallow”.  Found naturally in foods such as canola oil, olive oil, and almonds, it is not until it is inhaled that all benefits cease and the harmless substance becomes harmful.


Dozens of patients nationwide have suffered respiratory illnesses from the unforseen effects of inhalation.  Soon after the media picked up the story, government officials moved to discover the cause at both the state and federal level.  Reported symptoms of cough, shortness of breath or chest pain being the most common issues, but some patients experienced nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and even abdominal pain.  After extensive testing of supplied samples of vape cartridges showed a relatively common variable (Vitamin E Acetate) authorities began to suspect they had found the answer.  While some cartridges contained as much as 23-40% vitamin E oil, not all samples contained it.  Other samples were reported to include both THC and nicotine, a mixture not available in retail stores from any licensed provisioning centers or tobacco shops, lending creed to the idea that the real culprit was black market vape cartridges.

The halt on sales has met mixed reactions, despite most agreeing on the fact that Vitamin E Acetate should not be used in vape.  Curtis Goure, owner of BDT Shops and Tobacco store in Hazel Park, voiced this thought, “It’s been the counterfeit products where the additive Acetate vitamin E has caused a bit of hysteria.”  

Sales of THC vape will resume eventually, as manufactureres and retailers scramble to meet the new testing demands.  

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