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Monday, December 5, 2016

Michigan News for December 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

Evidence Destroyed
Livingston County: Judge Carol Sue Reader was forced to dismiss felony charges against Darryl Scott Berry and Jeffery Allen Michael after an officer destroyed more than 500 marijuana plants. Detroit Free Press claims the judge was surprised ‘a law enforcement veteran was unaware he had to receive a judge’s order to destroy the 556 plants’. The judge dismissed the manufacturing counts against the men, though Berry will still face charges of delivering marijuana to an undercover officer, so long as the evidence in that case was not destroyed with the rest. Michael must also appear in front of the judge for allegedly having marijuana and felony firearms in his home. The officer that destroyed the plants, Lt. James Wolf, claimed the plants were becoming a health hazard due to their rotting and molding. Wolf further stated that when his supervisor told him, “he could not tell me to destroy evidence” he made the decision himself to remove the health hazard, unaware a judge’s signature is required for destruction. The plants were destroyed three days after being seized. 

Overzealous Doctor Overprescribes

Lansing: As a result of the State of Michigan failing to properly audit physician certifications, one doctor was recently found to have certified nearly 14% of the total applications from last year. The doctor, whose name has been withheld by the Detroit Free Press, certified 11,810 patients which would amount to seeing an average of 45 patients a day in a 261-day work year. The auditors also found that 22 other physicians certified 46,854 patients, 56% of the total 81,090 patients that applied. The high numbers have led the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, who receive nearly 450 applications a day, to implement a random audit of physician certifications as of September 28th.  

Former Detroit News Anchor Joins the Fight

Detroit: In late October, Fox 2 Detroit anchorwoman Anqunette Jamison abruptly left her position at the station, telling viewers she would be working with the marijuana legalization effort in Michigan. A move like this in the news world would have been unthinkable in the past, showing how much the attitudes toward marijuana have changed in recent years. Jamison, also informed viewers of her own marijuana use, explaining she medicates to treat her symptoms of multiple sclerosis. She told the Detroit Free Press, “The response has been wonderful. I was expecting more of a backlash about going public with my marijuana usage.” Though she is certified to use the medication, she would like to have legalization “so people don’t keep getting harassed by police.” Jamison will be speaking at the Capital Conference on Dec. 4th at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing. The event is aimed at helping those interested in being involved in the medical marijuana market. Matt Able, head of Michigan’s NORML chapter, feels she will add a unique voice to the movement, stating, “She’s a highly credible example of a person who gets real help from medical marijuana.”

Passing Up Pot Money
Lansing: Law enforcement in 83 Michigan counties are eligible for apply for a chunk of $3
million set aside for medical marijuana enforcement. However, only 18 counties applied for some of that cash in 2016. Sgt. James Every, from Ingham County, and Undersheriff Michelle Young, Kent County, claim their departments were apparently eligible for the money but did not know it was available to their offices. Young told the Detroit Free Press, “We could absolutely use it for compliance and enforcement.” The amount available to each county depends on the number of new cards or renewals for that area. Wayne and Oakland counties combined spent 67% of the $823,000 given to 17 counties. Oakland spent most of their $282,661 on training and overtime for investigations. They also bought a $31,000 van, a $30,000 pickup, and a $6,800 trailer. The sheriff claims the truck and trailer were needed when officers stumble across a large grow operation and need to haul away the plants. Many believe the grants were not promoted enough, but departments will need to file by January 1st to be considered for the grant next year.

Marijuana Murder 

Detroit: Police are asking for any information about a homicide that occurred on Detroit’s west side Thanksgiving evening. A man wearing latex gloves and a mask, which covered half of his face, was found dead in the parking lot of a medical marijuana dispensary. The man was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound. Officers have said the circumstances of the crime are not clear and there are no suspects at this time. They are urging anyone with information to come forward, tips can be anonymous and may lead to a cash reward. This homicide comes less than a week after another, which occurred only 2.4 miles from the dispensary parking lot. In that case, a man was fatally shot after answering his front door. His wife was then chased up the stairs and out the window before they stole multiple marijuana plants.

Suing Spectrum Health
Grand Rapids: Lisa Richlich, a medical marijuana patient and former Gentex employee, was pushed to accepting a severance package after her doctor informed the employer of her marijuana use. Richlich is suing Spectrum Health, claiming their doctor invaded the client’s privacy when he sent medical information to her employer. Lawyers for Spectrum are asking the federal judge to dismiss the case as the doctor sent the information, progress notes, to protect his patient when she took time off work in 2015 for neck surgery. After receiving the information, Gentex reportedly gave Richlich the choice between drug counseling or a severance package. Though she tested negative for the drug, and claims she rarely uses it for her chronic pain, the company pressured her to leave. Richlich’s lawyer alleges the doctor was responsible for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Spectrum Health has told MLive, “Patient privacy and confidentiality is of paramount importance to Spectrum Health. However it is not our practice to comment on active litigation cases.”   


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