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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Michigan News for July 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

Detroit City Limits
Detroit: The new laws passed in Detroit, which will regulate the number of marijuana dispensaries in the city, are now beginning to be enforced. City officials are shutting down all unlicensed cannabis businesses, starting with those located in the newly established “drug-free zones”. Drug free zones are located within 1,000 radial feet of any school or library. The city has closed one-third of the dispensaries that are in violation of the ordinance, and have been filing lawsuits against 4-6 businesses a week. WDIV reports there are still 211 dispensaries open in the city, but officials expect that number to be around 50 once the process has been completed.

Footsteps In The Right Direction
Lansing: Currently, in Michigan, law enforcement is able to seize property if it is suspected of being involved in criminal activity. This seizure can happen even when no charges or convictions occur. In order for citizens to get their property back they must go through a process, beginning with paying a bond. A new bill, passed by the House and now sitting before the Senate, could eliminate the bond needed to start the process. Michigan is one of only a handful of states that still require residents to pay a fee before beginning the process of returning their seized/stolen property. While this is a step in the right direction, many feel that our state should follow in the footsteps of Montana, Minnesota, Nevada, and North Carolina, which do not seize property until a conviction has occurred. 

State Crime Lab Intentionally Misrepresents Test Results
Detroit: Several lawsuits have been filed against the Michigan State Police accusing the crime lab of intentionally misrepresenting test results. The lawsuits claim that the misrepresented results could cause thousands of people to be arrested on felony charges instead of misdemeanors. The patients and caregivers that have filed lawsuits believe that the state is producing data showing marijuana seized during investigations contains synthetic THC which is worthy of the harsh charge. The state crime lab has a policy which treats any plant-based oils or edibles as synthetic THC, which exposes the possessor to a felony charge. One of the lawsuits, written by Farmington Hills lawyer Michael Komorn, claims, “At least one reason for the policy change was to better establish probable cause to arrest medical marijuana patients, obtain forfeiture of their assets, charge them with crimes they did not commit, and to allow felony charges against others for what is at most a misdemeanor.” Plaintiffs in the case secured emails, through the Freedom of Information Act, which allegedly show the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan pressuring the state crime lab to ‘uniformly report edibles and oils as containing synthetic THC’, thus bumping up charges from misdemeanor to felony. The suits call for Chief U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood to revise test results, stop the state from issuing misleading reports, and to appoint a crime-lab monitor. 

MILegalize Files Lawsuit Against the State
Lansing: MiLegalize has filed a lawsuit against the state due to a new law which has invalidated most of the group’s petition signatures aiming to have marijuana legalization on the ballot in November. The suit claims the law and policy that have taken effect are inconsistent with the Michigan Constitution and that rejecting older signatures ‘denies voters their free speech and political expression rights’. Attorney Jeff Hank told the Detroit News, “We’re just asking for our petitions to be treated like all the others so that anyone who signed as a registered voter has their voice heard. The state doesn’t really have an argument for why they wouldn’t count someone’s signature if it’s legitimate.” The group is asking the Court of Claims for an expedited review, including a court order against the 180 day collection law and an order forcing the Bureau of Elections to conduct a full canvass of the group’s submitted petitions. The lawsuit is requesting the old signature law as well as the new law, signed by Snyder eliminating the option for signature rehabilitation, be declared unconstitutional. The group is also seeking monetary damages of $1.1 million if the signatures are not fully canvassed.

Kent County Jail Officers Arrested for Possessing Cannabutter
Grand Rapids: Two Kent County jail officers were arrested in 2014 for possessing cannabutter. Both officers were medical marijuana card holders and believed they were in compliance with the MMMA. The Michigan Supreme Court will hear from the men, who claim the Grand Rapids-area drug team that searched their homes did not have a warrant and coerced the men to cooperate because they are also officers. The Supreme Court has asked lawyers to file briefs on whether ‘knock-and-talk procedures violated the rights’ of the men and to address if the manner in which it was conducted was coercive. The state appeals court, as well as a judge from Kent County deemed the searches 

Michigan Man Arrested, Carried 10 kilograms of Marijuana in Suitcase

Virgin Islands: A man from Michigan was arrested shortly after landing in the Virgin Islands when U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers were alerted to the man’s luggage by a C.B.P. canine doing routine inspections for narcotics. The man was escorted by officers to a secondary inspection where they found 10 kilograms of marijuana in his suitcase as well as a ticket for a second suitcase. The second suitcase was located and found to contain another 10 kilograms of the illegal substance. The man will be charged with possession with intent to distribute but will be allowed to remain on release until an October court date. 

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