Jerry Millen understands some people being skeptical about the benefits of medical marijuana.
But he believes there’s one main reason for it: They’re uninformed.
If they met the people who’ve found that cannabis eases their pain from debilitating illness and helps with side-effects from chemotherapy and treats seizure disorders – even for kids – they just might think differently, he said.
“People who are against it really need to do their homework. They need to meet someone who’s helped by it,” Millen said.
That’s what he did, and that’s what led him to form a business partnership with two others, and then purchase and renovate a building in Walled Lake for a new venture, Greenhouse.
When it opens sometime later this year Greenhouse will be Walled Lake’s first state-licensed “provisioning center” – and one of the first in Oakland County – where medical marijuana will be sold.
And it will, at long last, be the culmination of a plan that Millen began developing about six years ago when he decided it was time for a career change. Much of his background is as a television personality – at UPN 50 sports, the E Network and more – and then he segued into a promoter/producer of MMA events in Tokyo, requiring extensive travel. About six years ago, he decided it was too much time away from his family. Millen started looking into the medical marijuana industry, contacted friends in California and Colorado for information, and then began attending meetings at local compassion clubs which offer support groups for people who use cannabis medicinally.
What Millen found there surprised him.
“You might expect young people or ‘stoners’ – but I was shocked at the number of elderly people and veterans there,” he said, adding that it took awhile before members accepted him. This was soon after medical marijuana was legalized by Michigan voters, so users were skittish about newcomers, Millen explained. No laws were being broken, he said, but people were still wary.
“They wouldn’t talk to me at first. They thought I was a cop,” he said, grinning. “It took about two or three weeks before they brought me into their circle.”
He also started working with the National Patient Rights Association, meeting users of medical cannabis from a wide range of backgrounds – and all ages – and attending medical marijuana conventions. The more he learned, the more he realized that getting into the medical marijuana business was the right move.
“It opened my eyes,” Millen said. “I thought, why not start this new business in a new industry, where I’m also helping people? What a bonus – not only making a living for my family, but also helping people.”
Greenhouse is awaiting licensing from the State of Michigan after having gone through the extensive application process including fees, background checks and guaranteed capital. Once they get the OK, Millen and business partners Matt Cecchetti and Frank Marra will be ordering various forms of cannabis from Organa Products’ facility in Warren.
Millen said it’s important to note that purchasing from a state-licensed provisioning center ensures the product is “clean,” as it’s monitored from seed to sale.
“People who buy from illegal black market dealers don’t know what they’re getting…it could be sprayed with banned pesticides or have mold or be grown in soil that has arsenic or who knows what? And when you already have an illness (that you are using cannabis for), you especially don’t need that,” he said.
Greenhouse, located at 103 E. Walled Lake Drive at Pontiac Trail, will be hiring employees in various capacities and training will be available. Anyone interested can send a message to email@example.com.
Millen said he’s also planning several education sessions, free of charge, to inform the community about medical marijuana.
“I’m crazy excited – I can’t wait to open,” he said. “When that first (customer) comes through the door, I’ll probably start crying.”
Millen applauds Walled Lake leaders for being one of the few communities in Oakland County so far to allow places where state-registered patients can purchase medical marijuana.
“We’ve really planned for this and are doing it the right way,” he said. “We want to make the city look good and we want to be a positive role model (for prospective provisioning centers). All eyes are on us.”