Ann Arbor Film Festival

The Magazine

May 24, 2011

Depot Town Rag

Explorer IV, Marijuana Plant, Epi 408

Prohibition ends . . . again!

by Tom Dodd

EVERYTHING’S UNDER CONTROL ON EAST CROSS STREET: Tats, unions, pot, and booze… all carefully regulated by State of Michigan statutes and standards.

When the district’s 1870s Oliver House railroad saloon saw the coming of the 18th Amendment (known informally as the Volstead Act) initiating the country’s prohibition of alcohol in 1919, the proprietors dug in their heels and kept their business open with ice cream and lemonade, rent from railroaders who lived in the upstairs rooms, and a downstairs dining room. When the Act was repealed in 1933, the saloon went on to become Dad’s, Ken’s, The Alibi Bar, and Aubree’s Saloon.

The neighborhood has had other experiences with controlled substances. Aubree’s has now expanded one bay to the west, usurping the space that was Weber Drug for many years. In his last years as pharmacist there, Don Wallaker never told his customers he was running out the back door to have their prescriptions filled at K-Mart; he continued to give personal, hands-on service to his life-long customers who received their meds in the old railroad district. And, like the tavern next door, Weber Drug had to meet strict standards for safeguarding their controlled substances.

Today, State of Michigan controls are reaching one more property to the west of the previous liquor and pharmaceutical security controls.

If you saw it on the sidewalk, you’d step over it.

Dispense with this
Jeff Cifor, 53, who has opened a new State-controlled enterprise at 35 E. Cross, operates Ann Arbor Health Collective next to Trader Joe’s, and another Collective in Taylor. What had been the home of Standard Printing since the 1930s is now the location of the Depot Town Dispensary. Pot sales have moved inside––off the street.

But it’s harder to get served here than at a bar or pharmacy. More “proofs” are necessary at Michigan’s new “pot stores.” You’ll need a Medical Marijuana Card that begins with a doctor’s referral, and Michigan Health Department approval. With their okay, Collective members may enter the waiting room to present their “paperwork” to a receptionist for admission to the “med room” where a variety of products await inspection.

Warning: there’s no fancy packaging here. Most of the offerings look like something you would step over if you saw it lying on the sidewalk. Grungy-looking wads of weeds are made more palatable only by the exotic monikers attached to them.

Product names are every bit as goofy as those found on meds at big-box drug stores, taking sentimentalists back to the days of Haight-Ashbury, Chicago’s Old Town, Detroit’s Plum Street, or even Depot Town’s Old Town Bazaar: Sour Diesel, Purple Gorilla, Blue Dream, Denny’s Haze, Purple Star, Pineapple Kush, Jamaican Lambs Bread, and Stawberry. The shop’s exotica are at least more memorable than lacossamide, natalizumab, or glucosamine condritin, just a few of the many controlled drugs available with or withouit prescription at the local big-box pharms.

Proprietor Cifor says about 50% of his product is “smokeable,” while the Dispensary’s other products include oils, sprays, balms, candies, cookies and other treats.

These snacks are not for the kids . . . unless they have a permit.

No matter how you spell it…
Marijuana or marihuana? Although the State of Michigan spells pot’s traditional name in a strange manner, the legislation stands strong for either usage. In the section for “findings, declaration” (Section 2), “The people of the State of Michigan find and declare that:

“Modern medical research, including as found by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine in a March 1999 report, has discovered beneficial uses for marihuana in treating or alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions.

“Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports and the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics show that approximately 99 out of every 100 marihuana arrests in the United States are made under state law, rather than under federal law. Consequently, changing state law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill people who have a medical need to use marihuana.

“Although federal law currently prohibits any use of marihuana except under very limited circumstances, states are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. The laws of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington do not penalize the medical use and cultivation of marihuana. Michigan joins in this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens.”
(SOURCE: 2009 Legislative Council, State of Michigan)

Consult your doctor
The Marijuana Policy Project’s model medical marijuana law allows patients to obtain a medical marijuana card if they have a qualifying medical condition and a licensed physician believes they are likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the use of medical marijuana. The model bill lists the following qualifying medical conditions (although state departments of health have added even more): cancer; glaucoma; positive status for human immunodeficiency virus & acquired immune deficiency syndrome; hepatitis C; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Crohn’s disease; agitation of Alzheimer’s disease; nail patella; the treatment of these conditions; or a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures (including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy), or severe and persistent muscle spasms (including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis).

This list of key medical references addresses marijuana’s ability to alleviate each of these conditions, which can serve as a valuable resource when talking to your doctor about whether medical marijuana is right for you. Depot Town folks have confided how they see all this medical and legal language as an appropriate expression of concerns of security for controlling how we use drugs of all kinds, whether they are alcoholic, pharmaceutical, or naturally produced.

About the Author

Tim Adkins
Tim Adkins
Tim is the publisher of iSPY and co-founder of Pakmode Media + Marketing. He's a social, vegetarian geek who recently welcomed a beautiful baby girl into his family. For any questions or suggestions in regards to design, ad sales, web, content or anything at all related to iSPY, Tim's your guy.

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One Comment

  1. shankwiler

    Very interesting article Tom. Eloquently written as usual. So do you plan on getting a license yourself?

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