With the possibility of Michiganders voting on marijuana legalization in November, a Grand Rapids-based clinic is keeping an eye on legislation that could affect its bottom line.
The Society of Healing Arts Institute (SOHAI) — at 1505 Lake Drive SE in Grand Rapids, with a second site in Roosevelt Park — opened on April 20, 2012, or 4/20, as co-owners Paul Farage and Tony Holmes pointed out.
Farage said the clinic was born out of frustration with Michigan’s fledgling medical marijuana certification process.
“What happened was we went to get certified as medical marijuana cardholders in 2012, and it was a very seedy, back-alley-abortion-clinic kind of atmosphere,” Farage said.
“It was in a hotel and packed with people. I paid $250 for a certification, and it did not include anything besides the doctor visit, not the state fees or application. It was so impersonal, and we thought, ‘What if we went into business and did it better?’”
Farage said SOHAI has grown every year compared to the previous year.
“From 2016 to 2017, we saw an additional 1,200 patients and increased our retail by $70,000,” he said.
Farage added it’s hard to plan for expansion. If the state legalizes recreational use, the need for clinics and dispensaries could disappear.
“You’ll be able to buy marijuana in a party store,” he said.
He also said one of the changes predicted for the industry is marijuana’s removal from the Schedule 1 drugs roster, which includes heroin, LSD and ecstasy but excludes methamphetamines, cocaine and opioids.
“I’m willing to bet by the end of 2018, marijuana will not be a Schedule 1 drug,” Farage said. “Our business could come to an end, but we will transition into something else. Hospital education or niche markets where people specialize in specific types of marijuana.”