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    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

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    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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High Stakes

Now three years old, Michigan's medical marijuana law is still getting sorted out

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: , License: N/A

On the wrong end of the clampdown on medical marijuana: Barb Agro with a photo of her late husband, Sal.

Marijuana has twice played a role in bringing significant changes to the life of Barb Agro.

The first time was a blessing.

A former police dispatcher, the 71-year-old great-grandmother from Lake Orion suffers from arthritis in both of her knees. 

"It's really bad," she says.

Because she's allergic to aspirin, she used Tylenol to ease the pain for years. "But the amount I had to take was so much," she says. "I worried about it damaging my kidneys."

Then her son Nick gave her a brownie made with marijuana when she visited him at his home in Colorado several years ago. And her life immediately changed for the better.

"It was like a godsend," is how she describes the effect the controversial medicine had on her. "It was amazing. I could sleep without any problem because I wasn't in any pain."

So she persuaded her husband Sal to give it a try. A retired GM worker, he'd also spent four decades coaching youth sports. 

"That gruff Italian guy who's really a big marshmallow," is the way he's described in one newspaper article.

But all those years of throwing footballs and baseballs took their toll. He had bone spurs on his neck and shoulders. "He couldn't lift his arms over his head," says Barb.

The pot worked for him too. 

So the views of this hard-nosed coach and his wife, who had spent years working around cops, changed.

"Talk about doing a complete turnaround," Barb says. 

Like most parents, they had taken a tough stance regarding drugs when their three sons were in their teens. "We told them we better not find any of that stuff in the house," recalls Barb, talking with the Metro Times from her winter home in Wildwood, Fla.

Now she's a convicted felon, and her husband of 45 years is dead from a heart attack suffered a week after Oakland County narcotics officers wearing masks and wielding weapons raided their home and confiscated 17 plants the Agros believed were being grown legally under the medical marijuana law voters approved in November 2008.

As the third anniversary of that ballot measure's passage is being marked this week, medical marijuana proponents are trying to figure out how to deal with a series of setbacks, as municipalities, police, prosecutors and the courts do their best to put a chokehold on the law.

Leading the way is state Attorney General Bill Schuette.

While still serving as an appellate court judge, Schuette helped create the group Citizens Protecting Michigan's Kids to spearhead the campaign to defeat that act, known as Proposal 1 on the ballot. That effort proved to be a spectacular failure, with 63 percent of the state's voters disregarding the dire warnings being sounded by Schuette and others opposed to allowing patients access to pot.

Since being elected Michigan's chief law enforcement officer one year ago, he's acquired newfound power to continue waging the battle against medical marijuana, the patients who use it, the caregivers who grow it, and the dispensaries where it is sold. 

As attorney general, Schuette is able to set the tone for cops and prosecutors across the state. And the legal opinions that he writes, though lacking the force of law, are given careful consideration by the state's judges and help inform their decisions.

What Schuette's critics say is that he construes the law in the narrowest possible terms, with his opposition to marijuana bordering on an obsession. As a result, patient access to medicine is being curtailed and there is a growing sense among some that, rather than providing them with protection, the law has become a kind of trap for those who adhere to the spirit of the measure but don't follow it to the letter.

"It's gotten really scary for a lot of people," says Brandy Zink, who is with the group Americans for Safe Access. "For some, the feeling is that having a medical marijuana card is like having a target on your back. Because of what the state is doing, they are considering going back underground."

Others, she says, are looking for ways to fight back.

The Agros can be counted among them.


House of cards

After the state's medical marijuana law took effect, Sal and Barb Agro became certified patients. Rather than smoke it, they preferred to ingest their medicine in baked goods made with marijuana butter. They also used topical marijuana oil, rubbing it on sore joints to help alleviate the pain.

One problem with the law is there is no explicit provision allowing for these types of products. It is one of many so-called gray areas that have thrown a cloud of confusion over the whole issue.

In fact, few things about the law seem indisputable. But this much is certain: Patients who receive a recommendation from a doctor and register with the state are allowed to grow as many as 12 plants and possess as much as 2.5 ounces of smokable marijuana.

Those unable to grow their own pot can designate someone else to be their "caregiver." Caregivers, like patients, must be certified by the state. Each caregiver can have as many as five patients. Because caregivers can also be patients, it is possible that a single caregiver with the maximum number of patients can have has many as 72 plants growing at any one time.

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