Medical marijuana was legalized in 2008 in the Great Lakes State, but dispensaries were not explicitly illegal and “gray market” dispensaries began to appear. Several cities and municipalities from 2010 to 2012 wrote zoning ordinances, took applications from early adopters and issued licenses to dispensaries. Then, suddenly in February 2013, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled hat all dispensaries are illegal. The decision was interpreted by the State Attorney General as giving local law enforcement the right and authority to raid and close existing operations. Raids, arrests and closures, however, only happened in a handful of jurisdictions, making it confusing for patients to understand what's legit. In 2016, the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) was established as a reset button to address all of the problems with the aforementioned grey market to legalize and regulate adult use cannabis. There leaves a big issue though, what happens to all of the existing establishments that didn't get raided? Everyone now has to shut down and then re-apply under this new law and even if a potential applicant can pass all of the requirements and meet all the conditions established under the MMFLA, the issuance of any license will still depend on the approval of the municipality.
We asked Dori Edwards, founder of Bloom City Club, a high end boutique dispensary offering quality craft-grown flower a few questions to understand what's going on from the ground level.
Bloom City specializes in craft growing small batches, which is amazing from a qualitative perspective, but this can be economically strenuous. Given that MI has restricted the number of ailments one can qualify to use medical cannabis, are you facing growth challenges that hinder profitability?
Under the current regulatory system, as a medical caregiver we are not allowed to make profits, yet we have not faced any growth challenges so far that allow us to continue being a care provider. We grow over 20 different strains that all have unique and useful terpene profiles to reach a wide variety of ailments. Being restricted to 72 plants makes it very difficult to have a wide variety of strains on hand at all times so we have formed a collective of caregivers who help us provide as much cannabis as all our patients need.
If you were to paint a broad picture of the MMMP, what would it look like right now?
The MMMP is not affected by the current MMFLA. Caregivers can still grow for their 5 patients and only their 5 patients.
What's going on with this purported shut-down in December?
We do not yet know what will happen December 15th. We are unclear at this time if the state will allow for a provisional license that would allow existing dispensaries to stay open to serve patients during the application process. We will know more at next Tuesdays state BMMR meeting. Some municipalities have already sent out cease and desist orders because the local narcotics squads are being offered grant money to come in and raid and close existing places down. This is a very uncertain time for Michigan patients. The Michigan market has been able to successfully regulate itself since 2009 and now the state wants to step in and act like we don't know what we're doing. Sad and frustrating.
How have you adapted? What's your vision for Bloom City over the coming year?
Our vision for Bloom is to have a couple more locations. We don't want to have so many that we dilute our brand or who we are but enough that we can provide more jobs in the communities we care about. We are passionate about cultivating and knowing where and how the cannabis is grown including what has been sprayed on it and used as nutrients to grow it. We produce our own high quality strain specific medicinal line called Ayurvanna Extracts and would like to be vertically integrated under the new regulatory system to be in control of the quality of flower, extracts and medicinals that our patients have access to. If Bloom has to close it's doors for the time being, we plan to focus on our CBD company, Synergy Botanicals and grow our outreach arm, Blue Sage Health educating as many people as we can on the safety and efficacy of this beautiful plant.
What are you doing for the Ann Arbor community?
We donate to many local organizations. Each month, we do a drawing from the employees suggestions, and choose one non profit to donate 1% of sales to. We have supported Food Gatherers, Angel House, Safe House, Animal rescue, etc. We also do free lectures and endocannabinoid presentations to help people understand our great body and why cannabis works. We are advocates that care and want to make the world a better place. We feel successful at this if we impact one patient at a time, making their day a little brighter. Our focus is positivity and caring and our goal is to put a smile on everyone's face that walks through our door. Hopefully this has a positive ripple effect for the Ann Arbor community. We have also taken great care to beautify our building and grounds so people walking by and in the neighborhood feel a sense of wellness just because we are there.
How can MI residents get politically involved, aside from the traditional letter to their rep?
We practically beg our patient body to get involved by calling their state reps, giving us their testimonials, or donating. We support fundraisers and ask for donations. We keep patients and the community informed on new legislation and house bills trying to get introduced and passed so they have specific things to say when they are calling. We find it extremely difficult to get people to testify on the benefits they have received from cannabis so legislators can hear from real patients because they are scared to come out of the closet. Because of the insane amounts of raids and asset forfeitures in this state under our caregiver system, patients are unfortunately still terrified to publicly admit they are choosing cannabis as their medicine.
Connect with Bloom City Club via social media and help support the Michagan movement to legalize and regulate adult use cannabis: