Allen Iverson, Ben Wallace launch cannabis lines as recreational sales in Michigan turn 2

Detroit Free Press

From two new cannabis lines by former Detroit Pistons players to a “fast-acting” gummy, Michigan’s marijuana industry continues to grow and evolve as the state’s recreational industry surpasses two full years in existence.

The recreational industry saw $128 million in sales in February, according to Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency, and agency projections for 2022 show recreational marijuana sales totaling $2 billion.

Beyond more variety in the types and brands of cannabis products available, new types of cannabis businesses are opening and marijuana events are returning to in-person formats after going virtual during the pandemic.

Below is a roundup of what consumers should keep an eye out for:

Iverson’s line comes to Michigan

Former NBA star and Detroit Pistons player Allen Iverson wasn’t initially sold on teaming up with former fellow NBA star Al Harringtonon a marijuana line.

“That ain’t my lane,” Harrington, who is the founder of the cannabis company Viola, recalls Iverson saying when he approached him about the idea. But after Harrington talked to Uncle Mo (Iverson’s uncle and manager Gary Moore) who is involved with the cannabis industry, and chatted with Iverson more about the mission of Viola — to increase minority participation and ownership in the cannabis industry — he was onboard.

The result is a strain called ’96 (the year Iverson was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers as the first overall pick), that launched in California last year. The second strain, ’01 (the year the Philadelphia 76ers made it to the NBA finals), landed in Michigan dispensaries on March 25 in the form of flower and pre-rolled joints.

IVERSON — which is available at more than 70 dispensaries around the state, such as 3Fifteen Cannabis in Hamtramck, Skymint in Hazel Park, Liv in Ferndale and Herbology in River Rouge — sold out over the weekend, but will be restocked in early April.

More: Detroit brewery, coffee shop Saucy Brew Works to launch line of cannabis products

More: New cannabis-infused beverage joins growing list of Michigan marijuana products

Ben Wallace’s line hits store shelves

After the Michigan cannabis company Rair announced a collaboration with former Detroit Pistons star and NBA champion Ben Wallace in October, the line now has a name (Undrafted, a nod to Wallace’s distinction of being the first undrafted NBA player to reach the Hall of Fame) and is set to hit dispensary shelves on April 15.

Through an exclusive licensing agreement with Jackson-based Rair, Wallace will develop his own line of cannabis products, including cannabis flower, pre-rolled joints and vape cartridges. More products will be announced at a later date.

“Cannabis has helped me safely relieve the aches and pains and different stressors that have built up from the many years as an athlete,” Wallace said in a news  release. “There’s no denying that marijuana has a healing upside for athletes or anyone struggling with pain — so alongside launching the Undrafted brand, the Rair team and I will continue to push to end this stigma associated with cannabis use.”

The products will be available April 15  in all Rair locations, including at the company’s dispensaries in Bay City, Muskegon, Big Rapids and Lowell. Non-Rair dispensaries slated to carry the products, including some in metro Detroit, will soon be announced.

Hash Bash returns to Ann Arbor

After going virtual for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hash Bash returns to an in-person format in Ann Arbor on Saturday. The 50-year-old event will be held on The Diag at the University of Michigan’s campus.

The free event will feature an appearance by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and speeches by cannabis personality John Sinclair and others. Hash Bash begins at noon.

New line of fast-acting edibles

A new line of sour, fast-acting cannabis gummies, created and developed by a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, are hitting Michigan dispensaries the week of April 11. Called Sugarbush, the edibles are made in Michigan by TreeTown Cannabis.

“We’re always interested in listening to our customers and they let us know that there’s a gap in the market,” Ella Carvalho, TreeTown Cannabis’s head chef, said in a news release. “No one else is making a vegan, nanotech, sour gummy with the nostalgic flavors that we all love.”

Sugarbush is different than  many other edibles because consumers can expect to feel the effects within 15 minutes, instead of about 60 minutes. TreeTown said they are made with nano-emulsification so they are water soluble instead of fat soluble like traditional edibles, allowing the product to enter the bloodstream more quickly.

This process also often gives consumers a different high than regular edibles, and is more comparable to that which people experience from smoking flower, the company said.

Sugarbush will be sold where TreeTown Cannabis products are available, at more than 200 dispensaries across Michigan. For each unit sold, $1 will be donated to Great Lakes Expungement Network, a nonprofit dedicated to expungement services for cannabis offenders.

More: Listen to ‘On The Line’: Waiting for Detroit’s recreational pot plan to sprout

More: Michigan communities will share $42 million of recreational marijuana tax revenue

Michigan’s first consumption lounge opens

A gathering space for meetings and special events has opened in Hazel Park. What makes it unique: Cannabis can be consumed on-site. Called Hot Box Social, it’s Michigan’s first licensed consumption lounge.

“Our hope is that Hot Box Social will be used to bring a new experience for companies hosting brainstorming meetings, friends who are gathering for private parties and one-of-a-kind fundraisers to raise money for nonprofit organizations,” said Nowfal Akash, CIO of Trucenta, the company that owns Hot Box Social, along with the recreational dispensary Breeze in Hazel Park.

The 3,000-square-foot lounge, located at 23610 John R, opened in March for private events, and is set to open later this year to the public. The 5,000-square-foot back patio  also will be available later in the summer.

Cannabis products must be delivered from a licensed dispensary and used on-site. Caterers and food trucks can be hired.

Contact Adrienne Roberts: amroberts@freepress.com.

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