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Where to find 420 marijuana events in Michigan

By Kathleen Gray/Detroit Free Press (TNS) • Apr 19, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Saturday will be a celebration of all things marijuana at dispensaries and other venues across the state as cannabis connoisseurs commemorate 420.

Say what?

That’s right, 420 became the shorthand for marijuana use, depending on who you believe, back in the 1970s. Some thought 420 was some sort of police code for pot crimes. Others thought it was a reference to Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” which includes the line “Everybody must get stoned.” You see, 12 times 35 equals 420.

But the real 420 legend started in Marin County, California, when a group of five high school pals said they would meet after school at 4:20 p.m. to smoke weed. That transformed into the shorthand of 420, which has become a not-so-underground way to say “let’s get high.”

“It’s part of the cultural lexicon and will continue to be a symbol,” said Jeffrey Hank, an East Lansing attorney who was instrumental in the 2018 Michigan ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. “I’ve heard all these rumors and legends about its true genesis. But it’s really just a day of celebration. We use the phrase all year, but there’s only one day that’s 420.”

Now that recreational pot is legal

The 420 designation takes on a special significance in the state this year since Michiganders voted to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use on Nov. 6, 2018, by a 56-44 percent margin. And while weed is legal in Michigan as of Dec. 6, 2018, commercial sales of pot to people 21 and older won't be available until the state develops the rules that will govern the recreational market and begins awarding licenses to businesses early next year.

In the meantime, the nearly 293,000 medical marijuana cardholders in the state can buy cannabis products in dispensaries, and adults 21 and older can grow their own — up to 12 plants per person — for personal use.

There are those, however, who definitely don’t view 420 as a day for revelry. Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a Virginia-based group that opposed Michigan’s marijuana legalization proposal, sent letters this week to lawmakers in seven states that are considering legalizing pot, urging them to reject the proposals.

“The commercialization of marijuana is a policy that results in devastating consequences for families, public health and public safety,” said former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-Rhode Island, who founded SAM.

Pot enthusiasts celebrating the day

But marijuana enthusiasts are ignoring the naysayers and planning for 420. Some events found online — such as Up in Smoke Detroit — are wrapped in mystery with addresses only available in the hours leading up to the event, while others, such as the Puff and Paint at Craft Cafe in Detroit, are already sold out.

The pot-centric events are viewed as a way to boost business at medical marijuana dispensaries and pique interest for future recreational customers.

"When rec comes into play, we’ll have an even better business," said Stuart Carter, owner of the Utopia Gardens dispensary in Detroit, which hopes to have a good start on an outdoor garden and patio when spring finally hits.

Here's a sampling of events:

420 Canna Expo: a trade show that will run 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant. It is sponsored by My Compassion, a Southgate nonprofit and compassion club comprised of medical marijuana cardholders and formed in 2008 after Michiganders voted to legalize marijuana for medical use. The trade show will feature up to 60 exhibitors, and presentations on all aspects of marijuana — from cultivation and uses for medicinal and recreational pot, as well as the business side of the industry. Don’t expect to be able to indulge in legal weed at the trade show, however. Marijuana isn’t allowed on the casino grounds, which is owned by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. The event is free and open to the public.

Kushstock Festival Michigan: a festival featuring music, vendors, artists and food trucks from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Auto City Speedway, 10205 N. Saginaw in Clio. Participants are advised to “bring your own meds and smoking apparatus.” Admission is free, although a VIP area is available for $100 per person.

Greenhouse: The first Oakland County medical marijuana dispensary in Walled Lake is teaming up with Bark Nation and Do Only Good Dog Rescue to host a barbecue and chance to play and possibly adopt some pooches and learn about the benefits of CBD-infused products for both pets and humans. The event will run 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the grounds of the dispensary at 103 E. Walled Lake Drive. The dispensaries will also offer raffles throughout the day for medical marijuana cardholders.

Evergreen Wellness Group: The Detroit dispensary will mark 420 with music, raffles, refreshments and a photo booth from noon till 7 p.m. The dispensary will be open for medical marijuana patients, but all the activities will be in the building next to the dispensary, located at 19705 W. Seven Mile Road, Detroit. “It’s a big day for all of our patients and us. It’s a marijuana holiday,” said owner Marlisa Meah.

Utopia Gardens: The Detroit dispensary will host a block party from noon to 8 p.m. that features bands, food trucks and artists. The dispensary will be open for medical marijuana cardholders and all the festivities will be held outside. It's located at 6541 E. Lafayette St. in Detroit. “It used to be a renegade holiday, but people revel in it, so we’re trying to make it a fun event,” said owner Stuart Carter. “It’s a celebration, marijuana people love this stuff and God bless them, we’re here to accommodate them.”

The Reef: The Detroit dispensary is planning a 420 event from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., both inside the shop with discounts and raffles of TVs and iPads for patients, and food and music at a tent adjacent to the Reef at 6640 E. Eight Mile in Detroit.

Dixie Brands, a Colorado-based producer of marijuana-infused edibles will team up with One Tree Planted, a Vermont nonprofit that is dedicated to planting trees around the world. For every Dixie Brand product sold on 4/20, Dixie will donate $1 to One Tree Planted, which will plant a tree in the U.S. for every dollar donated. Leoni Township-based Choice Labs has an agreement with Dixie to produce the company's products in Michigan, which are starting to show up in dispensaries around the state.

Kathleen Gray covers the marijuana industry for the Detroit Free Press. You may contact her at 313-223-4430.

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