Marijuana used to be a strictly underground, black-market business that conjured images of dangerous criminal activity by users and dealers. But the world is changing, and perceptions about the plant are changing along with it. What used to be such a hush-hush, dirty business is now breaking out into legitimacy more and more each day. In fact, there are more marijuana professionals employed in the US than there are massage therapists.
On Sunday, industry experts and business professionals are scheduled to gather in Detroit, for a 150-attendee conference. But this is no typical cannabis expo where you’ll see vendors selling their wares or hocking colorful tee shirts with blunts and psychedelic prints on them. Those in attendance will not be focusing on the plant itself, but rather on how they can break into Michigan’s marijuana industry-which is expected to become a $700 million enterprise.
Rick Thompson of Flint, Michigan is the organizer of this business-oriented conference. “Take a look at some of the Republicans who are sponsoring legislation now involving marijuana, and these are people who were viciously opposed to us just a few years ago,” he has said of the evolving manner in which our government handles the subject of marijuana. And he is very right about that.
Speakers include lawyers, lobbyists and consultants. Additionally, former Fox2 morning anchor Anqunette Jamison will be speaking. Jamison is known for using medical marijuana to treat her multiple sclerosis. Detroit City Council President Pro Tem George Cushingberry will also be in attendance. Cushingberry has been an outspoken advocate of legalizing marijuana to boost Michigan’s employment rate and tax revenue.
There will also be a panel at this conference highlighting the importance of diversity in the marijuana industry, with a focus on involving women and people of color.
“We’re a great agricultural state. We could add marijuana to apples and peaches,” says Roger Rosentreter, history professor and specialist at Michigan State University. He also illustrates the similarities between Michigan’s approach to prohibition in the 1930s and the state’s approach to marijuana in 2017.
In 1933, Michigan became the first state to ratify the 21st Amendment, which repealed alcohol prohibition. After this, government officials issued licenses to those whom they entrusted with the sale of beer, wine and liquor. Rosentreter feels that Michigan can go about repealing the statewide prohibition of marijuana in very much the same way.