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Former Detroit Lions player Calvin Johnson Jr. is taking his involvement in Michigan’s burgeoning marijuana industry up a notch.

The former Pro Bowl wide receiver has joined the board of directors for the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, according to a statement from the group Thursday.

Johnson and fellow Detroit Lions player Rob Sims Jr. plan to open licensed marijuana businesses throughout the state under the brand name Primative.

Though Johnson initially was denied pre-qualification for a commercial marijuana license in Michigan because of “integrity issues” stemming from old traffic violations, he obtained pre-qualification approval in February. The approval allows him to pursue state operating licenses for medical marijuana cultivation, processing and provisioning centers.

Johnson maintains a home in Metro Detroit.

In a statement, Johnson said the association, which represents about 200 cannabis industry, has become a “leading voice” for the licensed marijuana industry in Michigan.

“I am proud to help drive them forward to advocate for a well-regulated, responsible and inclusive business environment that will position Michigan as a national leader,” Johnson said. “Their policy priorities and focus on issues like expungement and social equity are a key reason I joined this team.”

Johnson and Sims “recognized the benefits of cannabis for treating issues like chronic pain shortly after their NFL careers ended,” the association said in a statement.

“Calvin brings savvy business skills and a compelling personal story behind his launch into the cannabis industry,” said Robin Schneider, the association’s executive director. “He will be an important ambassador for the industry and a fantastic addition to our board.”

The association’s board includes 11 other members, all of whom are associated with various Michigan marijuana businesses.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3661

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