The Green Era: The legalization of marijuana opens doors in Chesaning

Trimmed marijuana lies in the gloved hands of a High Life Farms associate. Chesaning, March 27, 2019. (Rebecca Roberts/Photo Editor)

By Mateo Escamilla, Collegiate correspondent.
Additional reporting by Michael Piwowarski, news editor.

Chesaning, a town in Saginaw County formerly well known for the now-defunct Showboat Music Festival, had filed for Chapter 7 federal bankruptcy back in 2013, but now a marijuana grower is putting the town back on the radar.

Highlife Farms is a nationwide grower, cultivator and manufacturer of premium marijuana products, with more than 250,000 square feet of state-of-the-art grow facilities. The company started in California and opened up in Chesaning in the spring of 2018, expanding their operations to the Midwest.

The Chesaning facility currently holds more than 6,000 marijuana plants. In a few months, Highlife will finish constructing their new outdoor greenhouse extension, which will give them enough room to grow up to twice as much.

The grow rooms use automatized state of the art technology that gives them the ability to control everything from the temperature, humidity and CO2 levels to the air movement and light spectrum the plant receives. Having full control over this allows the plants to reach their full growth and eliminates the chances of contamination.

With advancements in technology, lab extractors at Highlife are able to take CO2 (g) and pressurize it enough to turn the CO2 into a fluid, where it then goes through a chamber that is packed with raw flower and then chills the chamber to -70 degrees Fahrenheit. The pressure and temperature will fluctuate in order to fraction the compounds such as cannabidiols (CBD) and terpenes away, making an Oil/wax substance.

“Nothing is wasted here,” says R.J. Morse, production manager at Highlife. “Once we extract everything out of the plant, we then recycle. We do our best to get every use out of a single plant.”

Cannabidiols interact with receptors in the brain and immune system. These receptors are tiny proteins attached to your cells that receive chemical signals from different stimuli that help your cells respond. This creates anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects that help with pain management.

The wax is then infused in to foods such as chocolate covered blueberries, espresso beans, truffles, and sour gummy chews. Some of Highlife’s most popular flavors are Watermelon Hybrid, Mango Sativa and Blueberry India. CBD is also commonly found in lotions that help with dry skin or other skin-related problems.

Some families in the community of Chesaning have complained about the smell, and are saying that the odor is “violating the terms of the ordinance,” according to a report by WNEM-TV.

Once the state’s implementation fees are paid in full and $20 million is paid to the research of marijuana to help fight against veteran suicides, 15 percent of the remaining excise tax profits would go to municipalities and 15 percent to counties. The money will then be divided up based on the amount of provisioning centers and micro-businesses in each community.

National Public Radio (NPR) reports that “recreational marijuana sales are expected to kick off in late 2019.” Michigan voters passed a ballot proposal in the November 2018 midterm elections to decriminalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana. Five other states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – had previously done this.

However, the new state law only makes it legal for individuals 21 or older to grow or possess limited amounts of marijuana. 12 plants are allowed per household, and an individual may possess up to 2.5 ounces. A maximum of 10 ounces, privately stored, are allowed per household. In addition, marijuana dealers are required to have a license to sell.

Robert Battinkoff, chief of public safety at Delta College, further elaborates that neither marijuana nor cannabis-infused edibles are legal on the federal side, and thus are not allowed on campus, as Delta College receives federal funding.

“We don’t typically have a lot of drug related incidents on campus, even before the laws passed. And we’ve tried really diligently to get the word out, you know, through presentations, on our web page […] to make people understand, because there’s a lot of room for confusion in the law and we don’t want to see anybody inadvertently getting into trouble for it,” says Battinkoff.

Having said that, Battinkoff went on to explain that marijuana incidents would no longer be reported as a criminal complaint, since marijuana has been decriminalized in Michigan.

“Before the law was passed, yeah, we’d definitely [get] a criminal complaint. [….] Now we would probably just do a referral for judicial hearing, so it’s not necessarily going to be recorded as a criminal activity anymore,” says Battinkoff.

Mateo Escamilla is a second-year computer information systems student.

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