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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Michigan News for April 2017 - by Rachel Bunting

Booby Traps Aren’t Screwing Around

Wyoming: A licensed caregiver from Wyoming, Michigan is facing criminal charges for growing too many plants after a police officer was injured checking on her property. Officers were checking the property after reports of a break-in. An officer scaled a fence, to check on a broken window, and impaled his feet on asheet of plywood with more than 100 screws sticking upward out of it. No charges are being filed against the person who set up the plywood, as prosecutors have been unable to find a criminal statute that applies to the situation. However, Stacy Hahn, 33, was found to be growing 87 plants in a facility and will be charged with delivery/manufacturing marijuana as well as maintaining a drug house. Law enforcement did find the men responsible for the break-in and have charged them with trespassing and breaking and entering. Hahn has been released on bail but will appear in front of a judge next week for a probable cause hearing.

Zoning Laws Make All the DifferencePort Huron: A man from Algonac was arrested following a traffic stop last month. Officers served a warrant at a business on Huron Boulevard and pulled the 29 year old man over as he was leaving the property. They found him in possession of a handgun, loaded magazines, cash, and a pound of marijuana. Once in custody officers obtained a warrant to search the suspect’s home and found 39 marijuana plants as well as three more firearms. Investigators say that charges against the man will be requested and the inquiry is ongoing. The bust was conducted in a drug free zone as it was located across the street from a local high school, which is why officers will attempt to bring more harsh charges against the suspect.

Large Facility Coming to Grand 
Traverse CountyKingsley: TheraCann International, a world-wide cannabis company, recently presented plans to Kingsley’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) for a $20 million medical marijuana facility in Kingsley. The company is hoping to open a 100,000 square-foot growing operation in the industrial area of the village. The company would not be a dispensary, but instead would create a production plant to distribute products to licensed businesses. The proposal was universally approved by the DDA early last month. The village planning commission and village council will have the final say in the approval of the project. If approved, the new company will create at least 100 new jobs in the area.

St. Patrick's Day RaidsSaginaw County: A large raid carried out on nine houses in Saginaw County ended with 18 people being arrested on marijuana related charges. Five of those arrested were from Florida, one was from Colorado, while the other twelve were Saginaw area residents. The Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team executed warrants on all nine homes early St. Patrick’s Day morning. The raids were the result of a lengthy, ongoing investigation according to MSP Lt. David Kaiser. MLive states that according to the jail log all of those arrested are facing charges of dealing and/or manufacturing various amounts of marijuana.

Michigan LoopholesLansing: A loophole in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act is being exploited by some marijuana physicians while also shining a light on the problems caused by patients going to “normal” physicians. An article from Michigan Information and Research Service written by Simon Schuster explores the loophole allowing marijuana doctors to certify patients with little to no information about the patient’s condition.

     Schuster finds the back alley certification shop of Dr. Vernon Proctor. There were 136,097 medical certifications granted in 2015, and Proctor’s signature is on more than 15% of them. This would mean that Proctor filled out more than 58 certifications a day if he worked 7 days a week, 365 days a year. According to Schuster, no patient is turned away from any of Proctor’s many offices; as long as they have cash in hand, patients don’t even need medical records. Proctor is able to do this by skirting the medical marijuana laws. The law requires that any physician recommending marijuana as a form of treatment must have a bona fide doctor-patient relationship, this means the doctor should have a history of the diagnosis, or conduct a physical exam, and require patients to come in for follow ups.
    Proctor claims that he is able to get the history of the patient, if he feels it is required, by contacting the primary care physician. Unfortunately for LARA, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, there is no way to verify patients have been properly diagnosed or actually have a relationship with their certifying doctor. Being unable to audit or verify these relationships has allowed doctor’s, like Proctor, to continue conducting business without running into many problems. However, while the doctor is protected by loose fitting laws, patients could end up taking the heat if they are ever found to be in noncompliance with the law.

     If a patient is carrying more medication than allowed by state or growing more than the amount allotted the question of the physician-patient relationship will be brought up in court. At that point the patient and doctor would be required to prove the relationship does actually exist, if it does not the patient could face repercussions. Currently LARA is working on finding a way to do more “in terms of auditing those [medical] records and auditing them.” Schuster also points out that there is a larger issue than a physician certifying too many patients, and that is that “normal” doctors are unwilling to write any recommendations for their bona fide patients, causing them to go to a back alley doctor in the first place.

Transporting Across State LinesTaylor: A 23 year old Taylor resident was arrested in Summit County in Ohio last month. Kyle Simms was stopped by Ohio State Highway Patrol for speeding and lane violations when officers smelled marijuana coming from this vehicle. A search of the trunk turned up two quarts of marijuana Kool Aid along with two pounds of processed marijuana. Police estimate the marijuana to have a value of nearly $10,000. Simms is facing felony charges of trafficking and possession.

Transporting Across State Lines 2Benzonia: Ohio State Highway Patrol searched a vehicle last month and found it containing 25 pounds of high grade marijuana. After an investigation, officers found that the marijuana was purchased in Benzonia. Working with the Ohio State Police, the Traverse Narcotics Team executed warrants in Benzie County and recovered 122 marijuana plants. Two people were arrested in connection with the case. The 54 year old man arrested is facing charges of deliver/manufacture of marijuana, using a computer to commit a crime, maintaining a drug house, and felony fire arm. The woman arrested at the same residence could be charged with conspiracy to deliver marijuana, using a computer to commit a crime, and maintaining a drug house. The investigation is ongoing.


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