Wednesday, August 2, 2017
V.G.I.P. UPDATE for August 2017 - by Ben Horner
Gaylord: The Vote Green Project (VGIP) was established to help with local petitioning for grass roots ballot initiatives in Michigan and to educate citizens on issues related to cannabis and grow rights around the state. Over the last six years there has been dozens of VGIP meeting around the state, and the VGIP has assisted in several successful ballot campaigns in cities like Flint, Saginaw, Ferndale and many others. Gaylord, Michigan has been a place that the VGIP has returned to several times to aid and assist local patients, caregivers and small business owners after multiple raids on medical marijuana dispensaries within the city. Here is a time line of recent events:
May 27, 2015 – Eight medical marijuana dispensaries are raided in Gaylord
September 3, 2015 – petitions submitted for local dispensary ordinance, approved by Gaylord city officials
December 1, 2015 – Planning Commission unanimously approves local ordinance allowing dispensaries based on the petition submitted by the Coalition for a Safer Gaylord
March 10, 2016 - All Ten dispensaries in Gaylord are raided again.
April 4, 2016 - Al Witt sentenced to 180 days in jail and 18 months probation for 2015 raids
April 21, 2016 – Cloud 45 raided
August 2, 2016 – Brendan Curran is elected as Otsego County Prosecutor and replaces Mike Rola, who adamantly prosecuted the dispensaries in Gaylord.
July 24, 2017 – The five remaining Gaylord dispensaries are raided, just prior to starting petition to license the dispensaries.
July 30, 2017 – A new petition to license the dispensaries is submitted to the Gaylord City clerk.
In the most recent series of raids, a large number of drug task force officers from the MSP are present. Reports from the raid victims alarm activists around the state. During the raids, guns are stuck in the face of elderly women and sick people in full swat tactical fashion. Cars, computers, medical marijuana and cash are seized from all the locations. According to Frank James, from AllWell Natural Remedies, which was raided three times now, “I watched as the cops stuck assault rifles in my wife’s face. This time their (MSP) attitudes were more aggressive. They called us names. The cops were sweaty and pumped up. They told us this was just the beginning.”
In Cadillac, Don Koshmider lost his Jury trial after being charged for operating a dispensary just outside of the city. His loss, as well as Al Witt’s from the original Gaylord raids, seems to embolden the law enforcement. What is confusing is why are the dispensaries illegal in some cities but not in others. In Traverse City, just 60 miles from Gaylord, the dispensaries are licensed and have not been raided. So the only significant difference is licensing that allows the local municipality to approve or deny the place. Rumors are circulating that retired law enforcement are actively looking to secure the new medical marijuana licenses or play a part in their operation.
As a response the VGIP and Cannabis Stakeholders Group has drafted a petition to license the remaining dispensaries in Gaylord. Volunteers gathered the required signatures needed to place the issue on the ballot in the week following the raids and submitted the petitions before the August first deadline. The city is validating the signatures and will have them certified and turned into the city council by August 7th.