YPSILANTI, MI — A DJ blasted music from the upper balcony as customers circled around Oz Cannabis for its first day of recreational sales.
The retailer at 19 N Hamilton St. in Ypsilanti was the first of six to receive its recreational sales license in the city, owner Nemer Haddad said. It previously operated as Third Coast under Jamie Lowell and Darrell Stavros, who purchased the home-like building in 1994 from the Girl Scouts, which previously ran its headquarters in the building, he said.
“It’s highly anticipated. We’ve been waiting for this moment,” Haddad said. “We wanted to create our mark here in Ypsilanti.”
Oz Cannabis carries a variety of inventory from 85 strains of flower, tinctures, vape cartridges and edibles. The owner has shops in Traverse City and Detroit, and plans to open another two in Owosso and Meridian.
“We are positioning ourselves to have superior in-house products at a very affordable price,” Haddad said.
The 8,000-square-foot space is expected to house a consumption lounge, sales area and show room, rental rooms and an upper deck patio.
Several marijuana activists were at the event, including former Detroit Red Wings Darren McCarty, who signed autographs throughout the afternoon, Mr. Hash Bash Adam Brook, Rick Thompson and customers from Ohio and West Virginia.
McCarty is no stranger to the cannabis industry in Michigan. The four-time Stanley Cup winner long suffered from addiction and alcoholism and cited cannabis as the source for his recovery since Nov. 11, 2015.
“The one thing with me is, obviously, here in Michigan, everybody understands my advocacy,” McCarty said, giving credit to Haddad, Jamie Lowell, co-founder of Third Cost, and others for helping educate him on his “journey with this plant.”
McCarty launched a brand of his own several weeks ago in collaboration with Pincanna as he continues to fight the stigma against cannabis.
“Here’s the blessing that I have. I’ve lived my life publicly for the past 25 years in Michigan. So, good, bad or indifferent, I think people know I’ll tell you once, and show you twice. The truth will prevail,” McCarty said. “I’ve taken the Red Wing off my chest and I put the cannabis plant where the Red Wing was, and that is my team that I fight for now because it’s just about right and wrong.”
Thompson has constantly fought for changes in the legislature to eliminate marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which includes heroin, ecstasy and LSD, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“The rest of the job we have to finish off is expungement of people, correcting our federal scheduling or Schedule One,” Thompson said. “One of the reasons we’re having so many problems with social justice reform right now is because people don’t trust the government.”
Brook said the solution is to vote leaders out of office.
“The federal government claims there’s no medical use to marijuana,” Brook said. “We vote them out of office and we vote (for) new people who understand cannabis.”
Tony Thomas and Jamil Shaw drove in from Ohio and stood in line to make their purchase since the law does not permit recreational use, Shaw said.
“I wish Ohio would legalize it, it would decriminalize a lot of things,” Shaw said. “I came all the way here so I can be able to smoke and have no problems. I did my research and looked up places that was legal for recreational uses and Michigan was closest to Ohio.”
Thomas said there isn’t a whole lot of THC products around his hometown.
“In Ohio, we only have CBD and hemp. We don’t get actual marijuana. It’s more like a mellow high. We came here to spend some money to actually get…a feel for THC,” Thomas said.
Marshall Morford is taking a vacation from West Virginia to visit states that legally sell recreational marijuana.
“It’s a whole different experience up here. I hate West Virginia. I really wish we’d legal(ize),” Morford said. “It has so many medical benefits. It’s not a drug … In my eyes, it alleviates all the problems. People (who) are addicted to opiates, they’d be able to go to dispensaries and get something else instead of having to try to find that fix.”
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