Jump to content

Medical Pot Draws Rich, Well-Connected Investors


Recommended Posts

Michigan's newly regulated medical pot business is drawing interest from wealthy and well-connected investors, from casino and Freedom Hill Amphitheatre owner Tom Celani to property developer Ron Boji, who recently completed a major deal for the Lansing office building that houses the Michigan Senate.

Until recently, Michigan's medical pot business hasn't had political clout or marquee names. But two business trade organizations — the Michigan Cannabis Development Association and the Michigan Responsibility Council — have sprung up to help businesses leverage opportunities in what could be a billion-dollar industry.

And Celani and Boji are both significant political donors with experience operating in businesses that are regulated by government.

The association primarily represents those already in the medical marijuana business, such as dispensary owners. The council primarily represents outside business interests who want to get into the business as growers and processors, officials say.

Celani is chairman of the Michigan Responsibility Council, said Suzie Mitchell, the council's president and CEO.

The founder of casino and entertainment company Luna Entertainment, which owns casinos in Oklahoma, Colorado and California, Celani formerly had an ownership stake in MotorCity Casino in Detroit, and his firm owns Freedom Hill Amphitheatre in Macomb County and vineyards in California.

He did not return phone calls. Mitchell said his business plans won't be clear until administrative rules connected to the 2016 medical marijuana legislation are finalized, but "he personally had met with a lot of veterans who couldn't get a quality (medical marijuana) product," Mitchell said.

MRC memberships cost $1,000 per year, according to the council's website.

Boji, the president of the Boji Group, who recently completed a $134-million deal to move the Michigan Senate to office space he formerly leased to the state health department, is also "exploring options," but not through any trade association, spokesman John Truscott said.

Boji owns some low-performing warehouse space in industrial areas that, if properly zoned, "he could potentially lease to cultivators or patient caregivers," Truscott said Wednesday.


Ron Boji of the Boji Group. (Photo: Jeffrey Sauger, Special to the Free Press)

Both men already operate in government-regulated industries —- gaming for Celani and tobacco stamping and distribution for Boji — and both are significant state-level political donors.

Since 2010, Celani and his wife, Vicki, have given $80,600 to mostly Republican state candidates in Michigan. During the same period, Boji and his wife, Heather, have given about $215,000, again mostly to Republican candidates and causes.

Boji hosted a Sept. 21, 2015, political fund-raiser for Senate Majority Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake Township, at his Orchard Lake home. Among those who wrote checks to Kowall on the day of the event were at least two board members of the Michigan Cannabis Development Association, campaign finance records show. In all, at least 10 donors with ties to, or interest in, the medical marijuana industry, wrote checks to Kowall's campaign fund around the time of the event at Boji's home.

Boji occasionally hosts fund-raisers for lawmakers but didn't invite most of the guests and the event wasn't connected to any particular issue, Truscott said.

The Michigan Cannabis Development Association is chaired by Laura Ratliff, who, along with her husband, is in the medical marijuana dispensary business.

Edited by bobandtorey
Link to comment
Share on other sites

He obviously has been interviewing the segment of the veterans that shop at the dispensaries. The situation with poor quality medical marijuana at the dispensaries isn't going to change, it might get even worse with the new MM legislation. The veterans he talked with should either grow their own or find a good caregiver to grow for them personally.


 Mitchell said his business plans won't be clear until administrative rules connected to the 2016 medical marijuana legislation are finalized  "he personally had met with a lot of veterans who couldn't get a quality (medical marijuana) product," 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...