Jul 132022
 

Another week has passed, and there is more good news for the caregivers.

Lume announced earlier this week that they are shuttering four of their storefronts. Lume is one of the largest dispensary networks in the state, and they abruptly announced they would be closing their shops.

Lume made the announcement on Monday through its public relations firm Byrum & Fisk. Remember, it is Mark Fisk who supplanted Steve Linder as the head of the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association. This is the monopoly group at war with the caregivers trying to mandate total control of the state’s cannabis industry through onerous legislation.

Lume is owned by Bob and Don Barnes, who are the owners of Belle Tire. They could be nice well-intentioned guys for all that I know, but their lack of understanding of the cannabis industry has caused them some hardships. They came into the industry looking to make money, looking to maximize profits, and trying to corner the market. At some level, I can respect the hustle, but overambition and lack of understanding of the cannabis community has hurt them.

The storefronts offered by Lume are clean, well-maintained, professional and impressive. The supply, however, is lacking. The prices are often exorbitant. In an industry that is experiencing massive deflation, the model pushed by the Barnes boys is completely nonviable. Why would a consumer who can buy some nugs from his local dealer cheaper than ever waste his time on overpriced nugs that do not compare in quality to what is offered through the black or grey markets? It just doesn’t make sense.

Cannabis consumers were used to buying from their dealer for years as they heroically used civil disobedience to undermine prohibition. They have no problem going back to that model, which has proven to be effective and built the cannabis industry into America’s top cash crop, rather than pay exorbitant costs. The caregiver model replaced the black market in Michigan and was effective because it did not overregulate the market. People could grow in their homes, and the overages could end up in medical marijuana dispensaries. This system worked for everyone, except of course for the tax man.

During the golden age of medical marijuana dispensaries in the early years after medical marijuana was legalized, there was immense innovation. The prices were low, the consumer was happy, but plenty of entrepreneurs were making money during a time of recession and tremendous economic uncertainty. And contrary to the propaganda spread by cops and other reefer haters, there were no problems that were being caused in communities. An industry was booming, and it would have kept booming, except for the regulations that came in.

The marijuana industry is fueled by a core of people who have great loyalty to growers who they know provide the best product. They would never buy corporate weed in a million years. There is also the problem of unlimited Class C licenses. Myself and my former lobbying group, EverGreen Management, argued to cap these Class C licenses. We were ignored by the lawmakers. They spit in our faces. They listened to the Big Money Bastards, and now we are all suffering as a result.

The problem with giving the government regulatory authority over an industry is they do not stop at sensible regulation. They will use whatever initial sensible regulations to get a foothold in on an industry, and before long, they and the interests who own them dominate it. There are many other industries (think Energy, Beer & Wine, etc.) that operate under this sort of monopoly. But cannabis will never be one of them. Too many lessons have been learned during prohibition. Too much sacrifice has been made for it to be swallowed up.

This is why the corporations find themselves at an unexpected impasse right now, and they are finding their economic power is rapidly waning in Lansing when lawmakers see the industry hemorrhaging cash Those of us involved with the Michigan Caregivers Association (and all similar-minded activists who have been in the trenches fighting the takeover) helped put a chink in the armor of the bad guys. We put up the road block that caused them to stumble. And stumble, they have. The national recession has not helped them, but it is their own greed that was ultimately their undoing.

As much as we would like to take absolute and total credit for their failure, they have been their own worst enemies. They saw the cannabis industry as nothing more than cash cow that they could corner and milk endlessly for their own delught. The corporate villains came into Michigan looking to gang rape another industry. Instead, they have realized that there are limits to their ambition. We saw it with Terrapin, and now we are seeing it with Lume. This industry will always belong to this people, and the corporate raiders are finding it out about the consequences of trying to overthrow it.

At Cannabash over the weekend, we heard that the booths for High Life and Skymint were eerily dead. These firms have taken massive reputational hits for selling out the caregivers and being part of the corporate takeover of the Michigan cannabis industry. The rebel spirit within the cannabis industry is still alive, and educated consumers can make a big difference. From the chatter to the boycotts to the legislative fights to our aggressive media campaign to expose the monopolists, it is all coming together to have an amazing impact.

The caregivers are suffering right now, but ultimately will win because they provide the best product. Through the compassionate relationship between caregivers and their patients, they know how to tailor the product to the unique needs of the individual. The recreational system cannot compete with that. The love behind the caregivers system is something to behold, and educated consumers will continue to appreciate that and reward that proven system as the corporations fall.

There is a place for dispensaries but only if they operate under honest principles within the marketplace and work alongside caregivers. There is enough demand for dispensaries to give convenient options to casual cannabis users while caregivers provide the best quality product to true connoisseurs and medical patients who need it. But there is no room for the corporate kingpins who hate competition and hate liberty. They will be snuffed out, and this is just the beginning of their end.

Apr 262022
 

The Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association (MCMA), the “Big Weed” monopoly gang that is working to crush the medical marijuana industry in our state, has announced their new big lobbyist who will be working to realize their industry takeover.

After Steve “Dr. Evil” Linder was kicked to the curb (even though he is being kept in a nominal position in order escape public disgrace and humiliation), he has been replaced with Mark Fisk, a journalist turned political operative and communications expert. His firm, Byrum & Fisk, has handled communications for the MCMA for quite some time. Fisk will be taking an expanded role in the MCMA day-to-day operations after Linder failed. Essentially, Linder will be sat in the corner and emasculated in shame while Fisk really runs the show.

As I have frequently noted, Linder was the dark money pimp tugging at the strings of the corrupt Republican Party establishment for many years. Linder was wheeling and dealing with the likes of incest-accused scoundrel Lee “Coke and Hookers” Chatfield, helping Chatfield and his GOP partners make it rain nightly at various gentleman’s clubs on the 8 Mile strip. Fisk represents the other side of the political sewer in Lansing, serving at the pleasure of various Democrats.

Fisk was communication director for U.S. Senator Gary Peters when he served in the state senate during the early 2000s. He also served as press secretary for former Congressman David Bonior and was the political director for the majority caucus when the Democrats ran the state house after the 2006 midterm elections. He is renowned for his connections and his pull within state Democrat politics. He served as a spokesman for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer as recently as last year. He will no doubt be leveraging his deep connections in his attempt to crush the caregivers.

>You see, the MCMA thought that Linder and his avalanche of dark money could grease the wheels and get the legislation destroying the caregiver through while we were all sleeping. This did not work. We rose up. We brought the pain to lawmakers who were dancing with the devil known as Linder, and scared them off from supporting the gangster monopoly legislation. Now, they are trying a softer and gentler approach. They are going to work Democrat lawmakers and try to pull the wool over their eyes. There will be a new song and dance from this Fisk character, but we will not fall for it.

“We look forward to continuing our work with Stephen and the MCMA over the coming months to help ensure all Michigan patients and adult-use customers have access to safe, tested and high-quality cannabis products,” Fisk said in the MCMA press release announcing his hire. “Working together, we will continue to advocate in a bipartisan way for consumer and product safety and entrepreneurship in Michigan’s burgeoning regulated cannabis industry.”

Fisk is attempting to leverage his former work as a communications consultant for Proposal 1 in 2008, which was approved in an overwhelming margin by the voters to enact the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and create the compassionate caregiver system, to dupe the public. Fisk may have done the right thing then, but then he sold his soul and went over to the dark side. He has been working with the MCMA for many months as they have worked to destroy everything that is good about the medical marijuana industry, pushing dishonest messaging in an attempt to enact a large-scale power grab. Fisk is a bad actor and cannot be trusted.

Do not trust any of the public relations spin doctoring that will come out of the MCMA in the days and weeks to come. Do not accept any half measures. If there are Democrats connected to Fisk who suddenly start spewing the MCMA talking points, they must receive an immense amount of pressure in order to make it clear to them that they have no alternative but to stand strong on behalf of the medical marijuana industry and the caregivers. Fisk will no doubt be working his Democrat connections to rally support on behalf of Big Weed bills HB5300-02, and we must stop his deceptions and his tricks before they take root.

Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum (Republican, Democrat or anything between), Fisk is not a man worthy of respect or admiration. He is the mirror image of Linder, even though he hides his dastardly deeds under a smoother veneer. Fisk led the infamous Committee to Keep Pot out of Neighborhoods and Schools, an anti-legalization campaign that spread propaganda to the public in order to keep prohibition intact back in 2018. He called for Republicans to legalize marijuana as a ploy to keep the question off the ballot, which would have allowed the legislature to come back and rescind their measure at a later date. Fisk pushed this sneaky plot, which was ultimately rejected by Republicans, as a pretense to deny the people their voice in order to satisfy his lobbyist backers.

Fisk is especially dangerous because of his continued involvement with Governor Gretchen Whitmer. He has not only served as her spokesman, but also as a front man of her affiliated dark money groups. Fisk served as spokesman for the Progressive Advocacy Trust, which spent $2 million to help Whitmer get into the governor’s office. Another dark money group, Build a Better Michigan, was cited for major campaign finance violations back in 2018. It has since been rebranded and reformatted as “Road to Michigan’s Future” for the upcoming election cycle, and Fisk is once again involved in these efforts. It should therefore be assumed that Fisk will be using his influence with Whitmer to harm the rights of caregivers.

We cannot take our success and momentum for granted. Yes, we got Steve Linder removed after exposing him, sullying his reputation, and now his balls have been cut off and he has to get coffee for his replacement after losing so hard. But the monopolists will never stop. That is why the Michigan Caregivers Association is establishing a permanent presence in Lansing, and we will be expanding greatly next year. We know nothing short of eternal vigilance will preserve our rights. Fisk will be working the Democrat angle in a similar manner as Linder worked the Republican angle. But these lobbyists, once exposed, cannot stop the people once we are activated. We will fight, we will succeed, and we will go on the offense against this attempted siege of our sacred freedoms.

Sincerely,
Your Friend
George Brikho

Apr 212022
 


Friends,

I have some great news that should give hope to every activist in the state who cares about freedom, liberty, democracy and accountability in government.

The Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association (MCMA), the “Big Weed” lobbying firm that is working to destroy the medical marijuana caregivers system in order to seize a monopoly, has fired Steve Linder, the dark money kingpin who had been working behind the scenes to coerce lawmakers into passing HB 5300-02.

The Michigan Caregivers Association (MCA), a group which I founded to protect the rights of the caregivers, put Linder at the forefront of the policy debate – considered a controversial move at the time. We plastered his greasy mug all over ads, billboards, and made him the focus of the debate, comparing him to Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers flicks. Our heavy-handed tactics changed the debate from being centered around Linder’s phony talking points on “patient safety” to the Big Weed takeover that was actually taking place. We made a lot of noise, and it paid off.

Rats like Linder do not like when the light is shined directly upon them. They prefer to work in the shadows and make their dirty dealings without scrutiny. It’s called “dark money” for a reason. These lowlifes want their money and influence hidden from the public. We took the battle to the public. Linder cracked under the pressure. He made a fool of himself repeatedly. Lawmakers no longer wanted to be associated with him. His legacy is permanently tarnished as a result of our due diligence. The age of gangsters like Linder controlling the legislature are coming to an end.

The Michigan Caregivers Association claims the proverbial scalp of Linder. This is just the beginning. This is not an aberration. We are growing rapidly and building the infrastructure to expose the bad guys like never before. We put all other Linder wannabes on notice: You will be next. You will be pissed out of Lansing in disgrace just like Linder. You will be exposed, you will be righteously vilified, the public will view you as the pariah that you are, and then your Big Money backers will toss you out unceremoniously like a used condom from a strip club backroom session with Matt Hall, Lee Chatfield and taxpayer-funded escorts. 

We know that the MCMA and the wannabe cannabis monopolists are not throwing in the towel just because Linder is history. They will continue to agitate against small home growers, medicine providers, cancer patients, small business owners, and others who stand in the way of swelling their bottom line. MCMA board chair Shelly Edgerton is expected to take a more substantial role in the organization after Linder’s ouster. Edgerton, while certainly a less odious and grotesque figure than Linder, has the same establishment Republican and Lansing bureaucratic ties as Linder and is pushing for the same agenda. She wants to crush the little guy and pave the way for a monopoly. She will be thwarted as well.

It has been proven that the current testing regime is a joke and potentially-contaminated weed will always make its way on the shelves when the big players want to make profits. State regulators have focused on restricting caregiver product, and this has caused tremendous damage to the cannabis industry in Michigan already. Now, tons of inferior product are being flooded onto the streets, including contaminated flower, and the industry is in shambles. If this continues, the compassionate caregiver system that produces life-saving medicine for thousands of patients across the state will be crushed forever. This is economic terrorism by the corporate machine. It will not be tolerated. 

The Michigan Caregivers Association will enjoy this victory and this momentum we have built, but we will not take our success for granted. We know this is a never-ending fight to sustain our freedoms. If we take our eyes off the ball, that will allow the MCMA and their new henchwoman, Edgerton, to come closer to achieving their marijuana monopoly. Cannabis cannot become corporatized and corrupt like every other industry. This is the final frontier where the little guy can thrive in a free and fair market based on their ability to grow the best product. We demand a broad and shared prosperity. Nothing else is acceptable.

Be on the lookout for legislation that is in the works in Lansing that will prevent municipalities from adopting ready-made ordinances created by the MCMA and their cronies to destroy the caregivers at the local level, now that their monopoly bills have stalled in Lansing. We are going on the offense and beginning to roll out our Caregivers’ Bill of Rights that will give additional opportunities for superior caregiver product to be enjoyed by Michigan residents. Cannabis is now an unstoppable powerhouse, the nation’s #1 cash crop, and the individuals who put their lives on the line to create this essential industry ought to reap the full rewards of their blood, sweat and tears.

Keep fighting!

Your friend,

George Brikho

Please consider donating to the cause here.

Oct 222021
 

Friends,

I know there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty within the caregivers community due to the Linder monopoly bills and the threatening aspect of this cartel legislation that intends to wipe us all out.

I know you are worried about going back to the dark ages of prohibition, of being scared that a uniformed goon will show up and put a gun in your face for growing medicine. This is very understandable.

But we cannot give up.

The caregivers are the backbone of the Michigan economy, providing independent wealth that spans across many industries. It is not just the hydro stores like mine that rely on you to put food on our family’s plate. It is electricians, plumbers, carpenters, HVAC technicians, and so forth, and this money spreads into many other industries. 

Our economy is suffering, due to the pandemic, due to corruption, due to many reasons that I will not get into right now. By slowing down or shutting down due to fear, we not only give into the bad guys but also kill the engine that is keeping our country afloat during tough times.

This is why I implore all of you to continue your grows and continue producing medicine. They cannot come after us all. The people are on our side, and they are being alerted to the real problem. 

The real problem is Big Weed, the marijuana cartel, that would corporatize marijuana products. The caregivers system is based on relationships, sustained by the compassion of the grower. As everyone in the industry knows, there is an abundance of caregivers who will give marijuana away to cancer patients, epileptics, the pain stricken, and others who desperately need it FOR FREE!

Will that happen if the caregivers model is destroyed? Of course not, despite their assurances otherwise. They are trying to buy off medical patients with a proposed government subsidy, one that can be cut off at a moment’s notice, but that pittance is not worth selling out our freedom, our dignity and our self-respect.

I want to let the homegrowers know that myself, other business leaders, and the entire cannabis community are fighting for their rights. We are going to war with the monopolists everyday in Lansing. They know we are serious. We are hitting them with billboards, ads, calls and constant pressure to expose them. We are not lobbying the lawmakers, we are lobbying the PEOPLE against this takeover and the people’s eyes are opening. Nobody wants a corporate cannabis cartel.

We will come out victorious at the end of this. They were expecting that we would be celebrating post-legalization and relax, take our eyes off the ball, and allow this takeover to happen without much resistance. They have found that they were dead wrong. 

In the meantime, keep doing what you are legally allowed to do in our democracy through the Medical Marihuana Act of 2008. It is your constitutionally-protected freedom to grow medicine under the sensible regulations approved in overwhelming margin by the voters. Exercise your rights freely. We got your back.

Sincerely,

George Brikho