By Brad Devereaux | firstname.lastname@example.org
KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, MI — Cannabis + Kalamazoo = Cannamazoo.
Now that you understand the name, here’s the story behind the Kalamazoo area’s newest medical marijuana shop.
Adam Tucker, 38, is the entrepreneur behind the provisioning center Cannamazoo, 2233 N. Burdick St., in Kalamazoo Township. The store opened to registered medical marijuana cardholders on Monday, June 24.
Tucker formerly owned franchises of Jimmy John’s restaurants in Indiana. When Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana in 2008, he decided to move north.
With a degree in information technology, Tucker got a job as a software developer at Spectrum Health while growing marijuana at home. When the state passed its medical marijuana facilities act in 2016, he recognized marijuana could be a viable business option.
The state of Michigan approved a license for a provisioning center at the location just north of Kalamazoo on April 25, and Tucker said he and other have been working to open the location since. The interior was ready for the business to open Monday, June 24, and exterior work continued this week, Tucker said.
Tucker had the idea for the business and picked up some other investors while working toward opening Cannamazoo, he said.
Walking through the front door, medical marijuana cardholders are greeted at a check-in station before heading to a waiting room. Inside the retail space, a Cannamazoo employee explains the products to the customer, and enters the order into a tablet.
The retail space is about 5,000 square feet, with samples of marijuana flower, extracts, edible cannabis and smoking devices on display. Each of the samples are kept in a jar with a magnifying glass attached and a port for smelling.
Grape God and Silver Haze were some of the many strains on hand Wednesday. Tucker pointed out one strain that he grew from seeds he found in a bag of marijuana he bought while on a vacation. Some of the strains come from a network of growers and others, and the company works to determine ideal growing conditions for each one, he said.
A customer’s order information appears on a screen in the back stock room and staff selects prepackaged product and sends it up front for purchase. In back, shelves are filled with marijuana, extracts and other items.
Tucker said he is excited to see the business open, but he is most excited that he can provide cannabis to people who want to use it for medical reasons.
It’s a personal issue for him. Tucker said he first realized cannabis’ potential about a year after he was hit by a bus. Suffering from injuries in the crash, he was prescribed opiates and other pharmaceuticals and when he was in his early 20s, until a family member suggested he try medical marijuana instead.
Having little experience with the plant, he said he first thought medical marijuana was just an excuse to get high. But he later realized the plant’s positive impacts when he began using it and he later attended classes at Oaksterdam University in California to learn more about the business and the law aspect.
He found relief for pain and other symptoms and found products online, such as CBD pills.
“You couldn’t go to a store,” he said.
That’s no longer the case in Michigan, where medical marijuana shops are popping up across the state.
Cannamazoo’s lead grower has been growing for more than a decade, Tucker said, and others are new to the industry, including entrepreneurs, contractors, project managers, real estate agents, architects, engineers, electricians, plumbers, librarians, biochemists, and others.
“A lot of it’s synergistic,” he said, with people who are new to the industry and veterans working together. Tucker used his experience in software development to design and build an automated hydroponic growing system with timed lights, as well as a real-time measuring of pH, and what the plant is up taking and releasing.
“It’s taking five people and teaching a robot how to grow a plant,” he said.
Tucker said his experience working with a morphine pump device helped him helped him design automated grow systems that adjust things like pH automatically.
The growing operation and processing center, which are being built now and dependent on obtaining a state license before they can open, will be located next to the provisioning center, allowing the business to avoid costs for secure transport of their product, Tucker said, which is required by the state for any marijuana traveling from a grow operation to a provision center.
While waiting for the grow operation to be finalized, the business obtains marijuana grown in homes by caregivers. Currently, Tucker is a caregiver and grower himself and supplies some of the product, he said, while he waiting for the state to process his application that would allow him to buy in as an owner of the business.
The provisioning center is housed in a building that was once a bar and a private club, Tucker said.
Tucker wants to open five provisioning centers or more, and supply them with the company’s grow operation. Several other planned medical marijuana provisioning centers in the area have prequalification status from the state, he said.
Cannamazoo is the third marijuana provisioning center to open with a state license in Kalamazoo County.
Compassionate Care By Design obtained a state license and has operated in Kalamazoo since December and Lake Effect in Portage obtained a state license to operate in 2019. Lake Effect has been open for several years in Portage and operating under previous rules while they were in effect during the state’s transition to a new legal framework. Lake Effect was forced to close at times during the process, but is now open again after a remodel and expansion at its Portage location.
Cannamazoo is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday for now, he said, and will likely expand hours in the future. They are offering gift bags for new customers, and $1 promotional pre-rolls, one per customer, for the opening. The company is working to have a disc golf course designed to be located behind the business, and it will allow customers and their guests age 21 and over, to enter and play for free.