Montana 2022 Cannabis Sales Eclipse $123 Million

Calvin Johnson has used the highest stage reserved only for athletes at the top of his sport to share his passion for cannabis.

During his NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony last April, the former Detroit Lions wide receiver – widely considered one of the best players in the position – spoke of a “primitive” plant. and “healer” who helped him survive nine years of grueling physical punishment from some of the world’s hardest-hitting cornerbacks and linebackers.

He was openly talking about cannabis.

It was a wonderful moment for the NFL community. The most lucrative and popular sports league in the world has long taken a hardline anti-cannabis stance. Even now, testing positive for THC during the season results in automatic suspension of players.

“I firmly believe that the Lord has put on this earth everything we need to heal our bodies,” Johnson said in an interview with Cannabis time. “I apply this to my food, my supplements and now my medication.”

Inspired by his passion for the plant and his personal need for physical healing, Johnson and former Detroit Lions teammate Rob Sims opened a grow facility in nearby Webberville, Michigan in 2019. After COVID-19 stalled the duo’s plans for a retail store, the Primitiv Dispensary finally launched earlier this year in the small town of Niles, 150 miles southwest of Webberville on Michigan’s Indiana border.

The project born of their friendship on the grill has only just begun. But Johnson, 36, and Sims, 38, have big plans for their business and their activism.

An effective healer

Recreational marijuana has been legal in Michigan since voters gave the industry the go-ahead via the 2018 ballot. Johnson and Sims had retired from the NFL a few years earlier and worked together on real estate projects there. ‘era. In cannabis, they saw a new opportunity that matched their values.

The pair of former Lions stars admit they self-medicated under the table with cannabis while playing in the NFL. None of the pharmaceutical drugs administered by the doctors on the team did so well in relieving their pain.

“Plant medicine is one of the oldest and most effective healers in the world,” Johnson said. “Generations before us never needed Tylenol or anything synthetic.”

Since retiring, Johnson and Sims have incorporated cannabis into their daily wellness routines. Instead of treating pain, however, they now consume the plant’s chemical constituents for their calming effects. A sense of calm was important to them; the road to getting Primitiv up and running as an operational business has been no easy feat.

“We were one of the first groups in 2018 to want to acquire these licenses,” Sims explained, “but we were initially turned down. There are a ton of challenges as a startup in an evolving industry like cannabis, but we also faced a pandemic and people who don’t want to go back to work.

The dispensary finally opened in January 2022 and now serves around 300 paying clients every day. Alongside this, Primitiv donates to cannabis research at Harvard University and is an advisory member of the Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit that advocates for cannabis-related criminal justice reform.

Engage the customer

Customers entering Primitiv in its first two weeks of operation might have encountered Johnson or Sims. Yes, former NFL stars were on the floor to share their thoughts on which strains worked best for them for treating insomnia and anxiety. They also filled orders behind the counter and came out to deliver product, greeting customers who ordered curbside pickup.

This is not so much the case now that operations are operational; the two owners only make the three-hour drive across the state a few times a month. Instead, Ryan Horn, a Niles native and lifelong Lions fan, serves as Primitiv’s general manager, overseeing the clinic’s 20 employees.

A modern, open-ceilinged lobby dubbed “the locker room” offers patients an assortment of cannabis education materials while they wait to get their groceries. Posters on the human endocannabinoid system complement a small library of books on the plant’s health benefits and how individual flower strains work differently. A signed Calvin Johnson jersey in Primitiv’s black and gold colors, with a ‘P’ logo above the nameplate, is framed in a display case.

Primitiv calls its 1,200 square feet. “The Playing Field” commercial floor, where three big-screen TVs play videos featuring Johnson and Sims, interspersed with the company’s mission and sponsored cannabis brand messages throughout the day. Half a dozen glass display cases display the latest products from the Michigan market, and a table of microscopes allows customers to get a closer look at the trichomes of various strains of flowers for sale.

“Part of the goal is to try to engage as many senses as possible in customers and spark curious conversations when they speak with our [budtenders]“said Horn.

Juice and Influence in Michigan

In Detroit sports, little is guaranteed on the field. The Big Four City teams have collectively reached record levels of futility in recent years after a relatively successful run in the 2000s and early 2010s.

Something that is generally guaranteed? Athletes playing for local teams get on Michigan’s first plane when they retire or end their contracts, never to return. The lure of California, the sunshine of Florida, the opportunity in New York or the charm and recognition of their hometowns almost always keep even Detroit’s most beloved athletes away from Mitten State, which lost his luck.

But much like their decision to get into legal cannabis in the first place, Johnson and Sims broke the mold by settling in Michigan.

“Over the years, I started putting on my business hat,” Johnson said. “There were a lot of opportunities that came up in the state because I’ve been here my entire adult life.”

Sims, whose father and stepfather also played in the NFL, says he learned by example. He hadn’t planned to stay in the area when Seattle traded him to Detroit in 2010. But once the Lions offered him a four-year contract extension, he knew he had found a permanent home. .

“We believe you should stay where you retire because that’s where your juice and influence is,” he said.

But why Niles, a small town of just 12,000 in the rural western part of the state, for the Primitiv clinic?

For one, it’s less than five miles from neighboring Indiana, where adults still can’t buy marijuana legally. Second, and perhaps most importantly, local governments in some of Michigan’s most populous cities – Detroit, Warren and Sterling Heights to name a few – still do not allow the sale of cannabis to recreational purposes.

If and when these towns open up for adult use, Johnson and Sims say they will be primed to grow.

“This location puts our products in the hands of most people,” Sims said. “Now that the train is on the tracks, we’re focused on what’s next and what’s next.”

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