“Just remember, HEMMP with two m’s,” says Amanda, helpfully–a useful aid because a correctly spelled Google search is about your only hope of locating this new and sparsely funded nonprofit unless you walk past it, get a word-of-mouth referral, or read this article. Amanda, who prefers not to give her last name because she’s been less than straightforward with family members about the job she found after graduating from U-M last spring, admits that “after last Thursday, people are a little jumpy.” She refers to the August 25 ruling of the Michigan Court of Appeals, which held that the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana initiative does not permit sales at dispensaries.
We couldn’t give away Amanda’s job title if we tried because she doesn’t know it: “Let’s see, if Gigi is the director, I’m what’s under the director.” Gigi is Gigi Bennett, daughter of Kriss Pullen, who owns Gro Blue, the hydroponic store down the street. These two spaces together are a kind of vortex of information on all things related to medical marijuana.
Pullen, a licensed caregiver (a person authorized to grow marijuana on behalf of a patient) and forthright advocate of medical marijuana, doesn’t seem the least bit jumpy. She describes HEMMP (“Health and Education of Medical Marijuana Patients”) as “a center that’s focused on education and providing resources for the medicinal community” and says it’s the only such resource in town. Because it’s not a dispensary, HEMMP is not affected by the appellate court decision nor by the city’s new law regulating the number and location of dispensaries.
HEMMP hosts classes and lectures on medical marijuana issues and other alternative and holistic interests: massage, acupuncture, yoga, and Reiki. Amanda describes it as “a safe space to talk about concerns,” and while HEMMP doesn’t dispense marijuana, it can connect patients with caregivers.
To pay the rent, HEMMP sells things including bags and hats made of hemp (“not itchy like some of the lower-quality products,” assures Amanda), toasted hemp seeds (which taste like sunflower seeds), and another edible product called hemp hearts: “we used to have samples, but we ate them all,” says Amanda, though she still has plenty of unopened packets for sale.
Anyone who has been in this underground cave of a retail space behind the Fleetwood since it fell into the colorful and free-spirited hands of the Pullen/Bennett family will not be surprised to see that it’s still, like its previous incarnations (Geechi Bleu, then the original Gro Blue), a creative workspace of several vivid personalities. Hemp products mingle with various other organic and body care products, and the thing going on that looks like a garage sale is one. “It was supposed to be a once-a-month thing,” says Amanda, “but we just left it here.”
HEMMP Center, 207 W. Liberty. 222-5199. Mon.-Sat. noon-6 p.m. Closed Sun. thehemmpcenter.blogspot.com