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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Michigan news for December 2017 - by Kathy Hess

Perdition by Police

Last year in the state of Michigan, 523 people had seized property forfeited without being charged with a crime. In May, two Michigan State Police troopers conducted a traffic stop in Flint where they suspected a man had made a drug-related transaction at a nearby fast food restaurant. After searching his SUV they found no illegal drugs or drug-related materials, But the police seized $2,035 from him anyway and did not charge him with any crime.

In Michigan, one out of every 10 citizens whose property is seized and then kept by police through a legal process called civil asset forfeiture are never charged with a crime. More than $15.3 million in cash and property was forfeited last year according to a state report. $15 million taken from Michigan residences. Simply taken.

According to Kahryn Riley, policy analyst in the criminal justice initiative at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the troopers’ actions weren’t illegal because Michigan doesn’t currently have a law requiring a conviction or even an arrest before pursuing a forfeiture action in court. Riley though, said this process violates the spirit of the maxim “innocent until proven guilty.” However, Michigan law enforcement agencies have a strong incentive to pursue forfeiture because they get to keep 100 percent of the proceeds.

“We want to give police with reasonable suspicion and probable cause the authority to follow up in those instances. But carrying a large amount of cash doesn’t amount to either one of those,” Riley said. “The police can seize it if they’re suspicious. But to forfeit it? There’s no reason why you shouldn’t need to get a conviction before transferring ownership of thousands of dollars.”

Peter Lucido introduced House Bill 4158, back in February 2017, to establish that property seized from a person because it may be associated with a suspected crime is not subject to forfeiture unless an individual is actually convicted. The bill would also prohibit officials from requiring a person to negotiate for return of their property.

Contact your local representative and urge them to vote yes on HB 4158.

Just Say NO, to Drug ScreensFive counties were selected to be the testing model for road side saliva drug screening.  In November, Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair, and Washtenaw counties began the role out of a year long program designed to screen for six different types of substances; amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates, and THC.

Police will have to detect drivers who are under the influence the way they always have. But if they suspect the driver is impaired by drugs, they can request assistance from 27 “drug recognition experts” on the staff of state and local police contingents or with program-affiliated sheriff’s offices.
However, several Michigan attorneys have objected to the project, and some have told reporters that anybody asked by police if they’d care to have their saliva tested should refuse the offer.

Bloomfield Hills attorney Neil Rockind told MLive, "The legal system and law enforcement wants it to be fast and perfect. Science is not fast. Developing scientific techniques and perfecting those techniques typically takes years and years, and science is never perfect."

Attorney Bruce Block told a Grand Rapids TV channel, those asked about taking the test should say no. “You have someone who is a so-called ‘expert’ who has 72 hours essentially of classroom and about three or four days of testing their theories,” Block said. “Now whether you’re impaired or not, why, I suppose that’s up to this so-called expert. The problem is he’s not an expert — in his mind, everybody’s impaired.”
“If you don’t agree to it, it’s a civil infraction with a $200 fine,” Block said, presenting the “significant possibility” that legal drugs can result in a false positive. “If you voluntarily agree to this saliva test, you’ve just waived your right to get a speeding ticket and be on your way,”

East Lansing attorney Mike Nichols called the testing technology “risky” in an interview with TV news and suggested drivers take the $200 civil infraction instead of the swab test. Nichols referred to a news report which pointed out a field evaluation of the device in The Journal of Analytical Toxicology that found a 24 percent failure rate. […] false positives can be caused by such innocuous and legal substances as ibuprofen, nasal decongestants, sleep aids, and even poppy-seed bagels. Nichols, who is also certified as a “drug recognition expert,” advises drivers to take the $200 civil infraction rather than submit to this oral fluid roadside test.

The State Needs More Time

Most of those involved in the cannabis industry one way or another are patiently waiting for the state to list the official rules to get a license to grow, sell or transport medical marijuana.

LARA has already released tentative rules, including regulations on letting businesses grow, process and sell marijuana all in one facility.

“The department has been working diligently over the last several months to promulgate emergency administrative rules which are needed to enable us to fully implement the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act,” said Andrew Brisbo of the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation.
Other potential regulations involve the cost of getting into the business and maintaining annual license renewals.  Applications are expected to cost $6k.  Depending on the type and size of the license, owners will have to show that they have anywhere from $150k to $300k in liquid assets.  And it appears that LARA will require a $500k annual, yes $500k every year, license renewal fee.

“These rules are intended to ensure a fair and efficient regulatory structure for Michigan businesses as well as access to safety tested, medical marijuana qualifying patients,” said Brisbo.

These are provisional rules, meaning that the current listed fees and proof of assets could change, but they are the regulations that will be used December 15th, when the application process begins.

Planning Staff Plots to Sue Detroit

Two proposals that ease restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries in Detroit were approved by voters last month.
Proposal A requires Detroit to opt into the state law that recognizes the five licenses the state will offer, growing, testing, processing, transporting and provisioning centers (dispensaries). Detroiters voted 60% in favor of Proposal A.

Proposal B expands the zones for medical marijuana facilities to operate and eliminates zoning board appeal application reviews and public nuisance regulations. Detroiters voted 58% in favor of Proposal B.

Yet the city’s Planning Commission, voted 7-1 last month, to urge Mayor Mike Duggan to spend tax dollars to file a lawsuit over a pair of voter-approved medical marijuana laws which it claims will illegally impair the city’s zoning powers and that the challenge of the proposals is to “preserve the integrity of the city’s zoning ordinance.”

Detroit’s Law Department, nor the Mayors office want to move in the same direction of the Planning Commission. Rather they want to uphold the proposals Detroiters voted in.

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