By David Hernandez
Earlier this past June, after fighting the cabin fever of being cooped up in a locked down New York City, the Happy Munkey crew led by yours truly took a spontaneous trip to Michigan. With a packed bag and facemask I got on my first flight since the pandemic hit and flew direct to Detroit. This being my first time in the Motor City my goal was to be as much of a tourist as Covid-19 would allow. So right after getting the rental car we drove around the city to get a lay of the land, stopping at landmarks like the GM headquarters building and Comerica Park (which was sadly closed at the time). After grabbing a bite to eat and some Faygo soda we made our way to the AirBnB and began to recharge our batteries.
The next day we woke up in the early morning to get breakfast at a local spot in downtown Detroit that served sandwiches on onion rolls, an apparent Detroit classic, then hit the road to visit our friends over at Viola Brands. Long time Happy Munkey supporters Viola Brands, founded by NBA superstar Al Harrington, have been an elevating example of Black excellence in the Cannabis space. Since we were in town we had to stop in at the Viola cultivation and retail center, Michigan’s largest Black owned cannabis operation. When we pulled in we were warmly welcomed by Cotia, the facilities manager that helped start the Michigan branch of Viola. Their facility itself was nestled along the Detroit river, directly across street from the historic The Detroit Harbor Terminal Building building in a state of abandonment, an example of the dilapidated surrounding area.
While inside we were shown their vegetation room which had bright A-5 LED lights with hundreds of baby plants and clones happily reaching for the light. We also got to peek inside at three grow rooms with strains like GG4, Fatso, Papaya, Maitai, & GMO all happily and healthily growing. It is important to mention the facility when we toured was in the middle of an expansion period, having recently received permitting for an additional 24,000 square footage of grow space, essentially doubling their current layout. Next we toured the Viola branded medical dispensary directly adjacent to the grow operation. Unfortunately because of Covid the showroom was emptied and set up for reduced staff to run curbside pick up. Nevertheless we got a feel of the deli style service and uniform Viola brand message made clear by the purple accents everywhere you look. After chopping it up with the store manager, we were blessed with some Viola merch and then picked up a few flavors for the road.
For our next adventure we linked up with CannaBoys founder and unofficial Chaldean mayor of Motown, Jason Tueni. For those of you who are not hip to the fire being grown by the CannaBoys, these guys are growing the premier boutique cannabis in the country using nothing but top of the line genetics. Our adventure started with a quick tour through the heart of Detroit’s downtown, we then made our way to the widely known road 8 Mile. Jason explained that 8 mile is the divide between Detroit city and the start of the suburbs, and while it might have been made famous by Eminem, it is now better known as the “Green Mile” with dispensaries lining the city side of the road.
Driving down 8 mile we passed easily 15 different dispensary storefronts including stores like Detroit Cookies, Jars, and House of Dank (One of Detroit’s first dispensaries). Jason ended our tour with a stop along the countryside of 8 mile at a newly built and soon to open Dispensary called “The Clinic”. this spot was special because it is the first dispensary legally zoned to open in Centerline, MI, a big deal since suburban Detroiters prefer to not cross over 8 mile into the city for their cannabis. In addition to being the first dispensary scheduled to open in Centerline, MI it is also partly owned and run by Jason and his team. We initially scheduled the trip to see the grand opening of “The Clinic” but due to Covid the opening was pushed back. Nevertheless Jason opened his doors for us and let us see where the magic is soon to be happening!
On the walk you are warmly welcomed by the people at the greeting desk and politely asked to sign in. The waiting area directly across from the reception desk is brightly lit with sunlight pouring through the windows onto the stainless steel benches. The decor and aesthetic speaks to the industrial motor city’s history. The show room Large and set up with a U shaped countertop along the border for cashiers and smoking accessories kiosks along the center. And with a walk around the showroom I count 8 cashiers and space for 4 express checkout cashiers. Once I finished the tour I vibed out in the back office with the CannaBoys team. We chopped it up about our thoughts on the hottest flavors in Michigan and who was making the terpiest rosin.
After hanging with Jason and his team you realize he is a builder. I quickly saw the bond Jason and his workers share is deeper than employer and employee. He has soldiers loyal to CannaBoys movement. While they’re starting to embark on a new chapter, the struggle to the top is not forgotten. Employees that at one time went to work thinking everyday was the day the Detroit police would decide to crack down on their dispensary, now hold managerial positions. It’s undeniable Jason genuinely cares about the people on his team and does all he can to facilitate their growth. The saying “Everybody Eats” comes to mind when thinking about The CannaBoys movement and it’s clearly a part of their success!
From “The Clinic” Jason took us into the suburbs to see the locations of the other dispensaries slated to open in Macomb county. Next we stopped off at Jason’s father’s house to meet with the CannaBoys crew to stage a photo shoot of the newest crop. Stylistically he chose to take photos of untrimmed as well as trimmed buds along his father’s flower filled garden. From the photoshoot we hit the road again north of Detroit to see a Cannaboys grow operation. When we arrived I eagerly waited until we were walked in and shown the grow room! As I walked in I was greeted with beautiful bushy trees with their leaves happily sunbathing in the light, supported by thick treetrunk like stems. Before Jason could even tell me what I was looking at, I already knew from the smell I was in the presence of his famous Mac 1 (coming from the capulator’s Mac 1 cut) & Dinosaur Food. Even though the plants were only in week 5 you could already tell this batch was going to be frosty.
From the grow Jason took us to a facility he is currently building out in Detroit. The building was in a huge industrial lot, with shipping containers lining the parking lot. On the inside of the building Jason walked us through the rooms and showed us around where by mid August he plans to grow, process, and package all his licensed CannaBoys products! Our day with Jason ended with a tour down Warren road into Detroit’s downtown. Along the way we drove through many abandoned industrial lots that had been completely bombed by a vibrant spray painting community in the city.
The next day started with a 90 minute drive down south to Adrian, Michigan, which is only a couple miles away from the Ohio border, to pay a visit to our friends at Cryo Cure Cannabis. Once we made it off the highway and hit the long county roads I was thrown off by how flat southern Michigan was, at a glance you could see miles of sprouting corn rows into the distance. We eventually pulled up to a house and barn in the middle of an endless cornfield, and as we were pulling in Tracee, Co-founder of Cryo Cure, met us in the driveway. Over the last few weeks we had exchanged emails and phone calls, but this was the first time we had met in person, so we embraced each other with a friendly elbow bump and she brought us inside to the barn.
What I saw next both looked and smelt like heaven! Inside the beautifully furnished and spacious barn were bins upon bins of untrimmed limoncello flowers being worked on by a crew of seven people in addition to Tracee. After picking my jaw up from the ground I was introduced to Tracee’s husband, co-founder and engineering brains behind Cryo Cure Cannabis, Greg Baughman who then brought me up to speed with what they had going on in the Barn. Directly in front of me working at the center table were six men trimming away at frosty stalks of limoncello to later be run through a final automatic trimming machine. To my left was a large candy blue piece of farm machinery I soon found out was the world famous Cryo Cure machine. And to my right was the kitchen with an organized promotional display of large, healthy, and frosty nugs. On a closer inspection of the nugs to my right I noticed the buds I was looking at were unlike any other I had seen before.
After getting the scientific breakdown I needed to run my own scientific research, so I rolled up a few joints of the available selection of Lemon Cherry Gelato, New York Sour Diesel, and Gorilla Glue #4. Joint after joint I was surprised by the extremely terpy and flavorful flower, even noticing a super wet resin ring drip below the joint’s cherry. Aside from the light spongy feel of the Cryo Cure buds while rolling you can not tell the difference when smoking it, if anything the flavor profile of the Cryo Cure tastes more dynamic than traditionally cured flower. During the taste test Greg pulled out a jar for me to open, of what he described as 16-month old outdoor flower Cryo Cured and left sealed. When I opened the jar and examined the bud and the first thing that came to mind was a McDonald’s burger being left out for years and showing no sign of rot. To my disbelief having spent 16 months in a jar the Cryo Cured flower still had a noticeable nose, a vibrant color, and the texture was not cracker dry like other flowers get after only a couple days in a container. The extreme preservation that resulted from the Cryo Cure freeze drying was a testament to the magic the machine effortlessly makes!
Once we were done putting the Cryo Cured flower to the test I got a chance to walk around the barn and see what other magic Greg and Tracee were cooking up. Greg took us into his extraction lab where he uses cannabis biomass collected from trimming to make diamonds, sauce, and distillate. While in the lab for the sake of showing us how it’s done Greg whipped together a batch of carts to fill up and explained the entire process. We then took a peek into the basement grow where Greg had about 40 plants growing hydroponically. I snapped some video then went from hanging with the plants in the grow to back up in the main room of the barn where I was able to join in on the trimming party.
Our day at Cryco Cure winded down with Greg showing us his vault of coveted seeds including rare legendary genetics like Angola Red and new sought after genetics like Capulator’s MAC1. We then ate dinner and packed up for our trek back to Detroit. Before we hit the road we said bye to the whole team and promised to be back! On our way out Tracee made sure to send off with a farewell care package filled with a sampling of Cryo Cure goodies and Greg’s masterfully crafted concentrates. Next time I am in Michigan I will 100% be stopping by again, and I will definitely be on the lookout for Cryo Cure becoming a household name!
My last adventure while I was in Michigan was three hours west of Detroit to the town of Muskegon to visit my homie Greg, owner and founder of The Wave Extracts. I first met Greg at Happy Munkey months ago, and he made a point to mention that if I ever was in Michigan I should pay him a visit. To be honest I did not know much about Greg or The Wave before trekking out West, but one thing I knew was that they made the fire! So with the crew we woke up early on our second to last day of the trip and headed out on the open Michigan rodes. After a few pit stops and a bunch of puffco hits we made our way off the highway and through a maze of local town roads to Greg’s facility.
Greg met us outside and brought us into his “work station”, an office room with a large conference table conveniently covered in heady rigs, torches, concentrates, thermal thermometers, and the always needed q-tips and Iso. As we exchanged Corona-free embraces we took seats around the conference table and caught up since our first time at the club. During our conversation The Wave’s head extractor walked in and fired up a dab, halfway through the heat up he realized he had company and introduced himself on the cooldown. Before I could even inquire Greg told us to feel free firing up a rig and trying any of the flavors on the table! I quickly took him up on that offer and dipped into terpy jars of golden saucy goodness. I started off by smoking a golden BHO sauce labeled Trump’s Candy who’s sweet gassy taste instantly ignited a nose tingling terp sneeze. I regained my composure and moved on to try The Wave’s newest BHO sauce run of the extremely hyped up Runtz. The snappy sugary sweet taste lived up to the hype and gave me a head rush that settled right beneath my eyes that told me to take a 5 minute break. I ended my terp journey with the Seinfeld inspired Mackinaw Peaches sauce and had my flavor expectations for a BHO sauce completely blown out the water with heavy nodes of cream, fruit, and OG gas.
After what felt like hours of seshing Greg motivated the group to take the 15 minute drive to catch the sunset over Lake Michigan. I was naturally unopposed, who doesn’t love a good sunset? So we plugged in the South Breakwater Lighthouse into the GPS and we were off! On the drive, the skies over the ocean sized Lake Michigan were a mixed painter’s pallet of crimson reds, deep burnt oranges, and a calm growing indigo. We soon got to the beach and parked our cars just in time to watch the sun paint pictures in the sky. We then headed out along a long stone pier ending in a red lighthouse hundreds of yards out off the coast. At the end I could do nothing but stop and take in the sound of wind pushing the waves as the sun set for the night. Please understand me when I say, I have seen plenty of sunsets in my day, but trust me this sunset hit different. Once the sun set we split up and in lieu of the 3 hour drive to our AirBnb in Detroit, we got a hotel room at a nearby inn and made plans to stop through in Ann Arbor with Greg on our way back.
The next morning we linked up at Greg’s facility for an AM dab session to prepare us for the next three hours on the road. After a good 45 minutes of nonstop clouds we got our stuff together and headed for our cars. Before I left Greg came out with a few pieces from the newest Wave merchandise drop, blessing me with a pastel peach “Mackinaw Peaches” hoodie in the style of the Allman Brothers Band’s 3rd studio album “Eat A Peach”. Accepting the gift I proudly put on my new hoodie for the ride to Ann Arbor.
When we got to Ann Arbor our first stop was to pick up freshly washed hash rosin, washed by @Connoisseur_ Creations. We walked into a house of a regular looking suburb and were introduced to the @Connoisseur_Creations gang who were all sitting around a kitchen island littered with glass buckets filled with some of the terpiest hash rosins in the world! On the center of the kitchen island was a multicolor interstellar mothership rig with a matching bubble cap and faceted banger, resting just three inches from a black HeatTech thermal thermometer. And once again I could not even ask to try a hit, someone was firing me up a hit of freshly pressed Strawnana rosin. I then tried a lineup of close to 12 different hash rosins all collaborated on between The Wave and Connoisseur Creations. During our sesh Greg explained his transition away from BHO to solventless extraction, explaining that while he prefers BHO he understands the culture is quickly moving towards the era of solventless concentrates. He also blew my very high mind when he pointed out the fact he is one of the only Black men in the country making solventless concentrates, and to his credit he isn’t making any boof!
I ended the day back in my Detroit AirBnb with a few hours to pack before my flight in the morning. Feeling truly blessed I reflected on my 4 days in Michigan and plotted on the next time I could make it out! Big thank yous and shoutouts to Jason at Cannaboys, Greg at The Wave, Cotia at Viola, Tracee & Greg at Cryo Cure, and Matt from Bmore! The Happy Munkey crew will be back out in Michigan very soon, but until then stay safe, stay elevated, and alway #ChooseHappy!