As more regulated cannabis markets mature across the country, one recurring clash between the deeply rooted cannabis culture and the emerging cannabis industry has been over the rights of everyday adults to grow their own at home or have a caregiver do that for them.
Here at Beard Bros Pharms, we argue that homegrow rights and caregiver rights must be a foundational plank of any true cannabis reform measure, be it at the local, state, or federal level.
It should be non-negotiable, yet time and time again we see well-funded cannabis corporations quite literally lobbying lawmakers to deny homegrow rights to the people. The motivation is clear, if they cannot grow their own, they will have to buy it from the very same people that stripped them of their rights to begin with.
That’s some bullshit, for sure, but there is some good news.
The actual number of companies that are that tone-deaf and that out of touch with the demands of the cannabis community is really pretty low. In most cases, everything from their lame logo to their boofy weed makes them easy to identify and aim valid criticism at.
Keyword being ‘aim’.
In Michigan, where adult-use recreational cannabis was legalized in 2018, advocates are in a crossfire to protect the state’s popular caregiver program which includes as many as 30,000 registered caregivers serving roughly 250,000 patients.
Wrapped up in the controversy is one of the most recognizable names in cannabis, DNA Genetics, who is oddly being accused of fighting against homegrow rights and, more specifically, caregiver rights.
Right off the bat, seeing their name associated with such a boycott list didn’t make sense. This is a company whose entire ethos and empire were built on decades of taking the risk to provide proven cannabis genetics to homegrowers and caregivers the world over.
Unlike most of the people who have spouted off on the topic in Comment Section Court, we hit up DNA Genetics for their side of the story, but let’s start at the beginning.
ARE CANNABIS CAREGIVER RIGHTS AT RISK IN MICHIGAN?
Currently, Michigan state law allows licensed caregivers to grow up to a dozen marijuana plants for up to five different patients. If they too are a medical cannabis patient, their total plant count can reach as high as 72.
The fees to become a caregiver are much lower than those to obtain a license in the regulated recreational or even medical cannabis markets – as they ought to be. Additionally, their product is not taxed and is not mandated to be lab tested for potency or purity.
This has some critics of the program crying foul with boogeyman stories about what happens when weed isn’t taxed.
It just so happens that one of those outspoken critics is the embattled current head of one of Michigan’s leading cannabis trade organizations, the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association (MCMA).
His name is Steve Linder – a lifelong politician and no friend of truly free and legal cannabis – and his recent comments in the press concerning caregiver rights led to a massive backlash not only against him, and not only against the MCMA, but also against the unrelated list of cannabis brands that are members of the organization.
In an interview with GrownIn, published on May 17, 2021, Linder was asked a softball question about what two laws would he have passed by the state legislature if he had his way for a day. Here was his answer:
“Well, the first law that I would want to pass is a law that would start to get at the non-licensed supply out in the marketplace. We have a huge supply of cannabis that’s not in the licensed marketplace. And it’s not tested. We don’t know where it’s grown, we don’t know who’s growing it. People are not employing, they’re not investing in infrastructure, they’re not paying taxes. So, we have to get at the unregulated supply and that law needs to be passed. And we’re going to lead the charge.
The interviewer then asks for clarification as to whether Linder is referring to caregivers or if he is referring to the illicit market.
It turns out, he sees them as virtually one and the same, replying, “No, I understand. Law enforcement has a very vital role to play. But there are two types of distribution systems that don’t test, that don’t create jobs, and don’t pay taxes. One is the totally illegal marketplace. And then the gray area. We think everything should be in the regulated marketplace.”
Of course, if caregivers were suddenly subjected to the high barriers of entry that the regulated market has in place, their numbers would decrease exponentially, leaving hundreds of thousands of patients without an affordable and trustworthy source for their cannabis.
Linder, a boring thorn in the side of real grassroots cannabis reform, was not speaking on behalf of all MCMA members in that interview but his words have ignited a firestorm of bad publicity for brands who joined the MCMA simply hoping to contribute to setting a higher bar for consumer and product safety.
When you are in a position like he is, however, you have to know better and so, simply put, Steve Linder has to be ejected from the MCMA and from the Michigan cannabis scene altogether.
That’s not just us saying it either, so is Rezwan Khan of DNA Genetics, one of the brands having its otherwise strong reputation soiled by one man’s misguided words.
DNA GENETICS HELPED ESTABLISH THE ROOTS OF THE CANNABIS HOMEGROW CULTURE
It is easy to cut and paste a company’s logo onto a boycott flyer. It takes seconds.
Of course, in a minute or less you could just as simply google DNA Genetics and see just how instrumental they have been in providing the cannabis community – both farmers and consumers – with some of the most iconic cultivars of our era.
In fact, following our untimely raid in 2015, Don, Aaron, and Dave Crockett of DNA Genetics donated us a full line of genetics which we proudly popped into both our personal and professional gardens.
If you ever smoked our 24K, thank DNA… twice.
Well, a lot has changed since 2015, right? Yes and no.
The Hash Bash is one of Michigan’s longest-running and most prestigious cannabis events and competitions.
Just this year, as this half-baked controversy surrounding DNA Genetics was spreading across social media, the winner in the Indica category at the Hash Bash was a Michigan caregiver growing DNA Genetics gear – Gelato Sorbet, to be exact.
As Khan put it, “This proves that our relationship with caregivers still produces the best, and that is something to be proud of.”
Again, these facts are just a couple of clicks away but Cancel Culture rarely has that kind of time.
DNA GENETICS – MORE THAN JUST A BRAND
It is so important to remember that there are real people behind every cannabis brand.
Some are Chads and Brads, for sure.
But some are more like Rezwan Khan and Dave Crockett – dudes with deep roots in the cannabis culture that stretch back to when talk of a cannabis industry was just a pipe dream. Back to when Khans’ seedleSs brand retail store was raided in the early-2000s as a part of Operation Pipe Dreams.
Yeah, man. Deep roots. Real people. People who understandably take great offense to unwarranted and unlearned attacks on their character and on the reputations and brands that they have poured their lives into.
Just one aspect of the contributions that Rezwan Khan has made to the cannabis reform movement is in his role as the President for the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce (GACC).
The GACC is the best-positioned lobbying group working solely on behalf of cannabis legalization to move us all closer to our goal of federally legal cannabis – without all the mistakes that have been made along the way at the state level.
Roadside drug tests for motorists suspected of being under the influence of cannabis? The GACC is fighting against that for all of us, as just one example, ensuring that the plant’s inevitable legalization is not just repackaged prohibition.
In case you are wondering what stance the GACC takes on homegrow and caregiver rights, you need look no further than this Op-Ed penned by GACC board members John De Friel and Randal John Meyer and published in the Chicago Tribune way back on May 21st, 2019.
Khan himself is an outspoken advocate that everyone should be allowed to, and be provided with the means to, grow their own cannabis at home.
“At the heart of this, we are a seed company, our entire M.O. is providing genetics to the world,” says Khan, adding, “We have an entire brand called ‘Grow Your Own’ where we push everybody to grow their own weed.”
So, before you endorse a misguided attack – even if your intentions are good, even if it’s just a Like or Share on social media – ask yourself what have you done to protect homegrow rights and caregiver rights?