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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Michigan News for September 2016


MMMP Fees Pay Police

Detroit: According to the Detroit Free Press, many patients and marijuana advocates were surprised to learn the fees they paid to obtain their medical marijuana card are being used to pay the police that have been raiding them. The fees are meant to oversee and enforce the medical marijuana program. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) had so much money built up from the fees that it distributed $1.2 million to 18 county sheriffs. Oakland County’s Sheriff received $323,725. The sheriff plans to use the money for 28 “raid-style” bulletproof vests, a van, pickup truck, and trailer to transport seized marijuana, training investigators, and overtime pay for medical marijuana investigators. The sheriffs are expected to use the grant for training and the enforcement of the MMA.

     Many medical marijuana patients feel their own money is being used against them, to harass the sick that choose to use this medication. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard feels that the grants are there to prosecute anyone who is not following the law as it is written and believes dispensary operators are a “serious threat to society”. Bouchard is adamant to remove all the dispensaries in his county and cites a recent shooting at a dispensary chain believed to have happened due to a rivalry between dispensaries as proof that the facilities are putting “law abiding citizens at risk”. The grants awarded by LARA are expected to grow next year as the medical-marijuana fund now has $31 million. Michigan is one of the only states to have medical marijuana legalized but does not allow dispensaries. Many of those involved with law enforcement feel that law-abiding medical patients have nothing to fear as the officers try to focus on illegal dispensaries dealing more than just legal medicine.

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Kent County Home Raided

Rockford: Police found nearly 80 plants growing as well as 16 pounds of processed marijuana after raiding the home and property of a Kent County couple on Scram Lake. Alison Marie Blanchette and Stephen Louis Ruth will be charged with delivery/manufacture of 5 to 45 kilos of marijuana which carries up to seven years in prison normally but could be more as the couple has prior convictions in Florida. The couple’s prior convictions were felonies which makes the seven loaded firearms police took from the home illegal weapons. According to the Detroit Free Press, the couple are among “at least four people prosecuted in Kent Count this year for delivery/manufacture of between 5 and 45 kilos of marijuana.”

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A Truck Load of Weed

Traverse City: Michigan State Police needed a large road commission truck after searching two properties in Homestead Township. The Traverse Narcotics Team detectives, Benzie County sheriff’s deputies, MSP troopers, and Straits Area Narcotics Enforcement detectives were all involved in the raid. Officers believe they gathered about 350 plants in all and were high quality plants that required a machete to harvest. Three men were arrested on suspicion of violating the MMMA. There were nine people on the properties when officers arrived, and while only three were arrested. Authorities expect to request warrants for the six not arrested.

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MI Legalize Still Fighting

Lansing: MI Legalize suffered yet another setback this month when the Michigan Court of Claims ruled the petition campaign did not submit enough valid signatures. The group submitted 354,000 signatures, though only 252,000 are required, but the court found that more than 200,000 of those submitted were collected over 180 days before the petition was turned in. The lawsuit filed by MI Legalize states the 180 day requirement is “unconstitutional and unfair”, according to the Detroit Free Press. Jeff Hank, a lawyer and chairman of MI Legalize, stated, “We’re disappointed but we always figured this would go to the state Supreme Court, and that’s where we’re headed.” In order to get the measure, which would legalize recreational marijuana use to be taxed and regulated like alcohol on the ballot, the Supreme Court would have to “override deadlines for printing and distributing absentee ballots” and get a “favorable” ruling from the court. If the group fails in the Michigan Supreme Court they can take their case to the US Supreme Court.

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Arrested in Ohio With Medibles

Ypsilanti: Matthew Gross, a 28 year old man from Ypsilanti, was arrested and booked into the Richland County Jail in Ohio late last month. Gross is believed to be the man who handed out, and tossed into the crowd, marijuana laced candy which caused two dozen people to overdose at the EST Music Festival. He will most likely face felony charges of drug trafficking and possessing drug paraphernalia. The candy, as reported by Cleveland News, was packaged in 100 milligram packets of medibles called Nerd Ropes.

     None of those who overdosed lost consciousness or died, but were all treated at a local hospital before being released. When Gross was apprehended he was found to have a bag with the packets inside as well as a “marijuana-smoking device”. Once at the jail, Gross was searched and found to have a baggie with around 6 grams of marijuana in his jeans. Gross is a Michigan medical marijuana card holder and is believed to have brought the packets across state lines to spread the brand name. He is being held on a $50,000 bond.

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Supreme Court Drops Case

Centerville: The Michigan Supreme Court dropped interest in a case concerning a marijuana bust and police tactics in St. Joseph County. The case questioned whether deputies were in the right when they walked to the rear of a home, after already knocking on the front door with no answer, and became suspicious there was marijuana in the house. The officers came back with a warrant and searched the home. The attorney for the homeowner is arguing that the warrant was improper as the officers did not have reason to keep looking around after there was no answer at the front door. While two other courts agreed with the deputies, the Supreme Court dropped the case. According to the Detroit Free Press, three justices stated that the lower courts need guidance.

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Clones Are Plants Too

Lansing: The Michigan Court of Appeals has decided that if a marijuana clone has a root structure with leaves that are green and alive it constitutes a plant. This decision come after Lorenzo Enrique Ventura, a medical marijuana patient, had his home raided and was found to have 21 marijuana plants and 22 marijuana “clones”, causing him to be in trouble for having 19 plants over the legal limit. Ventura argued the clones were just “leaves and cuttings”, which resemble nothing close to a mature plant. The court, however, disagreed with Ventura ordering he serve his 24 month probation and 120 hours of community service. Judge David Sawyer stated on the case, “They’re not very big plants and they’re not mature plants, but the statute doesn’t address that. It just says plants.”

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