ANN ARBOR, MI — Lines stretched outside the door as customers waited to make prescription-less cannabis purchases at a downtown Ann Arbor shop that began selling to the general public Monday.
Om of Medicine, 111 S. Main St., celebrated its recreational sales launch with familiar faces like former Red Wings Darren McCarty, longtime local pot activist Chuck Ream, state Rep. Yousef Rabhi and Robin Schneider of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association.
“This is a huge, momentous day,” co-founder Mark Passerini said. “From this point on in the state of Michigan, nobody goes to jail for consuming a plant. I’m thankful that we’ve been embraced by the Ann Arbor community. We will always focus on this community. We will also always focus on the science of this plant. We’ll focus on research.”
McCarty, known for his rugged style of play as a member of the Red Wings’ “Grind Line,” said cannabis saved his life. The four-time Stanley Cup winner long suffered from addiction and alcoholism and has been in recovery since Nov. 11, 2015, with the help, McCarty says, of cannabis.
“I was almost dead,” McCarty said. “I got my (medical marijuana) card back in 2014 … there’s no question I was about to die with my blood pressure and my weight. I was 80 pounds heavier.”
McCarty used Rick Simpson oil, a cannabis oil, “gram after gram,” for eight days, “every waking hour,” he said.
“I’m a little over four years on this journey where this plant saved my life and got out in front of it. Everybody knows that’s how I protected the Red Wing emblem that I played in front of, so now I protect the plant in the same way,” McCarty said, adding that Om of Medicine and the Ann Arbor marijuana scene has provided friendships and educational opportunities over the years.
Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, sponsored legislation earlier this year that would make it easier to clear the criminal records of people with low-level marijuana convictions.
“The criminalization of marijuana has created a racist criminal justice system that has locked black, Latino and Latina individuals up at increasing rates and by legalizing marijuana. The hope is we can reduce that moving forward,” Rahbi said. “Part of my mission, now that (Proposal) 1 passed, is to go into our criminal justice system … and get people out of jail who were imprisoned for crimes that are now considered legal. I think this is a big step in the right direction both from a public health perspective for how patients and consumers are using marijuana but also a criminal justice perspective to make sure we’re creating a more fair criminal justice system.”
Monitoring inventory to ensure medical cannabis patients continue to have access to prescribed does is another priority, Rabhi added.
“We want to make sure that it is not harming the supply of medical marijuana as well. There are some concerns with the supply overall so I want to make sure to call attention to that,” Rabhi said.
Cannabis activist Chuck Ream made the first ceremonial purchase at Om of Medicine on Monday. He quit his kindergarten teaching job in 2004 to help lead legalization efforts in Ann Arbor.
“That was the big breakthrough,” Ream said. “Today … you don’t have to go through all the detail of getting a medical marijuana card. You can walk in here like a legitimate patriotic American and purchase a plant that grows out of the ground that really helps people a lot.”
“To hell with stigma. This is a magnificent thing. This is a gift of the gods. If anyone smells the smoke, they’re smelling the breath of the mother God,” Ream added.
Northern Michigan resident Drew Driver made his way down to Ann Arbor to celebrate the shop’s recreational launch.
“It’s a bit surreal,” said Driver, who grows marijuana for the store. „I’ve been an advocate over the years and fought so hard for this. This is the first time I’ve bought rec cannabis at a store,”
McCarty’s message to the public is to “get educated, then get medicated.”
“You never have to smoke the product if you don’t want to. Ask questions because you don’t have to suffer if you don’t want to,” McCarty said. “It’s very spiritual, it’s almost a religious thing for me. I cannot live without this plant. I cannot operate. I can, but it leads me to different places.”