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Friday, March 3, 2017

Michigan News for March 2017 - by Rachel Bunting

New Polls Shows Slightly Increased Support for Legalization
Lansing: A new poll released by EPIC-MRA (Educational, Political, Industrial, and Consumer Market Research Analysis) shows a four point increase in support of marijuana legalization. The poll was conducted in January and February 2017 and shows 57 percent of the 600 people questioned would definitely vote yes, probably vote yes, or lean toward voting yes if a marijuana legalization proposal was on the ballot. MI Legalize 2018 is thrilled with the results.

    The survey found that younger voters were the most supportive (78 percent), while democratic women were found to be second most supportive (75 percent). Republican women were more opposed to legalization than Republican men (61 percent and 50 percent respectively). Looking back at previous similar polls shows the numbers of approval have increased. In March 2016 only 53 percent of voters were supportive of recreational legalization, and only 50 percent agreed with legalization in December of 2014.

     A statement released by EPIC-MRA after the poll says, “Clearly, support for the legalization and taxation of marijuana continues to increase over time, and if enough valid petition signatures are collected to require the proposal to be placed on the ballot in 2018, younger voters would likely be very motivated to participate in the election to offer their strong support for the proposal.” A petition drive to legalize recreational marijuana by MI Legalize 2018 is currently underway.

Medical Marijuana Funds Police
Lansing: Fees paid by medical marijuana patients to Lansing will help to pay for officers in Ingham County to be able to better enforce the laws. The state granted the county $112,681 through the Medical Marihuana Operation and Oversight Program. The money will be used to buy 23 stun guns, chemical identifier equipment, two trailers, and overtime for officers working to enforce medical marijuana laws.

     The chemical identifier is a handheld device which is able to identify narcotics at the scene. The Tasers will be given to every field officer for protection. The money is only a small part of the $3 million collected by the state which will be distributed to counties for “education, communication, and enforcement” of the medical laws. Grant amounts are determined by the number of registry cards issued or renewed in the specific county in the previous year. Last year only 18 of the 83 counties applied for the grant money.

Don’t Buy or Sell Weed on Craigslist!
Corunna: A Craigslist drug deal ended with two men in prison and two others dead last month. 31 year old Otis Smith and 23 year old Anthony Holloway were arraigned last month on charges of felony murder, armed robbery, and conspiracy. The men met with 31 year old Joseph Carson and 39 year old Anthony Hammond for a marijuana sale they had set up through Craigslist in Caledonia Township. Smith and Holloway robbed both men before shooting them from the backseat of the vehicle. The bodies were found in the car outside of a local Wal-Mart. Smith will have a court appointed attorney while Holloway will be providing his own.

Religious Growing?
Lansing: Last month, the federal appeals court in Lansing upheld an 18 month prison sentence imposed on Brendan Barnes for growing marijuana in his home. Police found Barnes’ grow in 2014 when responding to a call about a gas leak. Barnes claimed the 321 plants found in his home were being grown under a religious exemption.

Brendan paid $25 for a membership to the Oklevueha Native American Church and another $200 to possess religious sacraments (marijuana). The court, however, found that “Barnes’ belief in marijuana appears to be a personal one, not one rooted in religion.” The court determined that Barnes’ actions were illegal as there is no requirement to grow marijuana and donate it to the church to be a member.

Medicating on Probation
Bay City: A Bay City attorney is fighting to be able to use his medication while on probation. Edward Czuprynski was found guilty of a moving violation causing serious bodily impairment and sentenced to 18months probation. The probation included no possessing alcohol, being in bar, or using medical marijuana, which Czuprynski has a patient card for. The judge told Czuprynski he would consider allowing the use of his medication if he could prove to the court his need for it. This month Czuprynski filed two motions regarding his cannabis use arguing that “depriving him the use of marijuana would amount to an unlawful impingement on the privacy inherent in a physician-patient relationship.”

Czuprynski claims that he uses marijuana for “severe, chronic pain due to a gradually worsening arthritic condition in his groin and hips, a hereditary condition that runs in his family.” Furthermore, claims Czupyrnski, the Judge cannot ban him from using his medication as the charge against him did not involve the drug. A hearing on the matter is expected Feb. 22nd in front of Judge Jurrens.

Follow Grow Laws: The Real Story
Beaver Township: Last month we reported on two men who were arrested for an illegal grow operation. It was reported that Danny Leal-Cruz and Peter Boria were carrying an ounce of marijuana on their person as well as three containers of processed cannabis in plastic containers in their vehicle when police pulled them over. After speaking with parties involved in the incident, MMM Report has learned that much of the story was fabricated by police and larger news outlets.

     The men were at the property, not to manufacture marijuana, as prosecutors are attempting to charge them with, but to check if there was an eviction notice on the door. The owner of the land contacted the men to inspect the property. Contrary to what was reported, Leal-Cruz does have a medical marijuana card – a fact that was left out of the police report. Police did not find any marijuana on the men, but instead found a small clone on the passenger side floor and some rooting gel in a pants pocket.

     The rooting gel was originally mistaken by officers as THC wax and they tried to bring possession charges against the men until they found out the true contents of the gel, then officers claimed the men had marijuana in their pants pockets and attempted to bring a charge for that. As for the containers in the vehicle, we have been told, that they were in a locked box inside the trunk of the car – the way in which medical marijuana is supposed to be transported. The containers were from a medical marijuana dispensary and had less than a gram in each.

     Charges against Boria have been dismissed, but those against Leal-Cruz are still pending as the prosecuting attorney and police continue to post-pone the case. Leal-Cruz claims he was caught in the middle of a dispute between the landlord and the tenant, causing him to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, now facing manufactured charges.

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