Lansing has long been an important place for the Michigan cannabis industry. The capital city once supported a reported 90 caregiver retail stores before the Medical Marijuana Facility Licensing Act fully reigned in caregiver markets. This reporter got his start in the cannabis industry in Lansing back in 2014 while also serving as campaign manager for the ill-fated MILegalize ballot campaign committee.
Lansing’s tolerant attitude toward weed has made it a great environment for top-notch cannabis entrepreneurs like Hilary Dulany, a partner of Lansing-based cannabis grower Aardvark Industrees, which just launched a new line of products under musician Willie Nelson’s Willie’s Reserve brand in recreational retail locations across the state. The new line, Nelson’s first foray into the Michigan cannabis market, offers five strains that range from about 24 to 30% THC, with pre-packaged flower and pre-roll options available. Dulany told me demand has been high and that Lansing-area consumers can find the products at Lake Life Farms when it opens its Lansing facility on Michigan Avenue this fall.
I first became aware of Dulany during the caregiver days while working for the now-defunct medical cannabis retailer Kind Provisioning on Michigan Avenue. She was already a well-known and connected cannabis entrepreneur and advocate. Dulany and her team have years of caregiving experience under their belts and have proved savvy business operators, successfully navigating the turbulent state-regulated market.
The business has partnered with some of Michigan’s premier craft cultivators in an effort to ensure top-quality products, while also supporting operations run by former caregiver and legacy operators. Dulany has a sincere respect for the advocates who have paved the way and made our industry possible. Aardvark allows small operators to make a big impact, pairing with one of the most well-known and trusted names in Michigan cannabis.
Far too regularly, celebrity brands go directly to corporate-funded mega-grows to get their often pre-remediated products to consumers. Willie’s Reserve is working with Aardvark to allow the brand to be successful in Michigan, where both quality and price need to be on point. Aardvark has been handling Michigan growing operations for another celebrity brand, comedian and actor Cheech Marin’s Cheech’s Stash, since 2022.
Aardvark will be able to leverage years of know-how and grit to ensure the new products aren’t just high-quality but successful at the bottom line, too, something not many of the big boys can say yet. Aardvark stands as the exception, not the rule. I’m impressed with the quality and worldview attached to this venture, and I see it as a shining example of some of the things we’ve gotten right in our industry. I’m hopeful I can use my new position as the author of this column to help highlight these kinds of operators that have strong roots in our cannabis community and help enrich the community as a whole.
This marks my second Lansterdam in Review column, and I wanted to take a minute and introduce myself to help set the context for this column moving forward. I’ve worked in the cannabis industry since 2014 for a few different Lansing-based companies, including Homegrown Cannabis Co., Kind Provisioning, Rehbel Industries (lol, yeah, that guy) and Redemption Cannabis. In addition, my time as an activist and cannabis consultant has given me a context that I hope can create some value for readers.
One note: I’m currently employed by Evolution Brands. I think it’s important to be completely transparent to you, the reader. I won’t be reviewing any of my company’s products for this column.
My goal with Lansterdam in Review is to inform and educate our cannabis community so that we can all ensure we have an industry that best represents our values and goals as a community of patients, advocates, consumers and industry operators. I’m an advocate for a more equitable and sustainable cannabis industry that aims to increase access to legacy and small operators.
City Pulse has always had a special place in my heart. I remember counting on the Pulse to keep me up to date on the ever-changing cannabis scene in the times before legalization. I take my responsibility seriously and will diligently look out for consumers and patients above all else. During the caregiver years, there was a defined sense of community in Lansing’s cannabis scene, and I’m hoping to speak to that legacy and help ensure its traditions survive the oncoming corporate cannabis onslaught as our industry trudges on toward full maturity.
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