Investors and entrepreneurs alike have rushed to enter Michigan’s nascent cannabis industry. Two gentlemen who won’t be involved in the freshly vibrant scene, however, are hometown football heroes and former Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson and Robert Sims.
As more football players turn to cannabis treatment for injury recovery and pain relief instead of dangerous opioids, Johnson and Sim represented a bridge between those skeptics in the football community and supporters in the cannabis industry. That bridge crumbled Friday when the Michigan Licensing Board denied Johnson and Sims’ prequalification for the pair’s marijuana venture, which would have included a dispensary, grow operation, and marijuana processing facility.
“There is great interest because of head injuries and there are a number of football players looking into the research with cannabis and oils and the impact it might have on brain injuries,” John Truscott, a spokesman for Johnson, told the Detroit Free Press. “And there are a lot of professional athletes who are interested in the business as they look at 20 years down and how it may impact them.”
The board’s concerns stemmed from a couple unpaid traffic tickets in Georgia belonging to Johnson. A couple of rental properties owned by Sims weren’t up to proper codes as well, according to officials.
“[In regards to the traffic tickets,] one is nine years old and one is four years old and there are warrants out,” board member Donald Bailey told the Free Press. “They’re minor, maybe even meaningless, but the problem is their response (noting that Johnson hadn’t disclosed the tickets in his marijuana license application). We’re entering this highly regulated market. And if this is their response, that’s a problem for me.”
Truscott said the traffic tickets were resolved as soon Johnson learned of them. Because of frequent moving between places during his football playing days, the tickets got lost in the shuffle. A spokesman for Sims also said his housing matter has been resolved.
CRJJA Ventures, the group that applied for the licenses, is expected to appeal the decision.
“What’s happened is kind of ridiculous. We’ve put a lot of work into this. It would be hard to see how you could have a better candidate for a license.” Truscott said. “We’ve done everything by the book. But just like football, we’ve had some hard times, but we’ll get back up.”