Posts Tagged ‘michigan marijuana’

Michigan Attorney General Goes After Medical Marijuana Law

Bill-Schuette1.jpeg
Photo: Voice of Detroit
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette hates medical marijuana,
and he thinks you’re faking to get it.

​Michigan’s attorney general has been busily trying to dismantle the state’s medical marijuana law ever since it was passed by voters. Attorney General Bill Schuette announced legislative proposals on Wednesday targeting patients he claims are “exploiting” the law.

Schuette is not a fan of the law, passed by an overwhelming 63 percent of Michigan voters in 2008. In the sort of political gymnastics also favored by Republican attorneys  general in other states (examples: Rob McKenna of Washington state and Tom Horne of Arizona), Schuette claims to be a “states’ rights conservative” — unless the “state’s right” we’re talking about is a medical marijuana law.
In that case, the rules are different, and in Schuette’s mind, it’s open season on medical marijuana patients, because, in a brief he filed back in June in support of the City of Livonia — which is trying to ban medical marijuana use and sales — the attorney general claims the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act is preempted by federal law.

Oddly, Michigan law somehow trumps federal law with Schuette if it’s affirmative action we’re talking about. Apparently different rules apply when it comes to protecting the privileges of white people (after all, he is a Republican), as pointed out by Christine at Blogging for Michigan.
Schuette, of course, claims his proposed crackdown on, and evisceration of, Michigan’s medical marijuana law is to target “criminals who take advantage of the law.”
The attorney general announced his nefarious plans at an 11 a.m. news conference Wednesday in Lansing.
“The law has been hijacked by pot profiteers who threaten public safety on the roads and in our communities,” Schuette said, giving a free, handy demonstration of “how to ignore a majority of the voters.”
At the announcement to unveil the legislative proposals targeting patients, Schuette was joined by an assemblage of assholes including Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Lodge), Representative John Walsh (R-Livonia), Dr. Steven E. Newman of the Michigan State Medical Society, Lt. Col. Gary Gorski of the Michigan State Police, Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz, Saginaw County Prosecutor Michael Thomas, Eaton County Sheriff Mike Raines, Clinton County Sheriff Wayne Kangas, and Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police Chief Milton Agay.
Toke of the Town was unable to confirm a breaking rumor at press time that the group had decided to call itself the “Low-IQ All-Stars.”
Schuette tried to paint marijuana as causing a vast number of highway traffic accidents in Michigan, citing some bogus statistics from (surprise!) the Michigan State Police (obviously protecting their job security, not the public) which supposedly show the “marijuana-related fatalities remain the most common drug-related automobile fatality, and that such fatalities are on the rise in Michigan.”
“Driving with marijuana in your system is unsafe and jeopardizes the safety of our roadways,” Schuette said. “If you take drugs, don’t take the wheel.”
Schuette also proposed “legislative reforms” (read: gutting the law) to give prosecutors and law enforcement “the tools they need to crack down on criminals who exploit the loopholes of the MMMA.” (Translation: “Please make it easier for us to bust and harass legitimate patients and providers.”)
The pot-crazed attorney general proposed the creation of new crimes to crack down on the medical marijuana certification system:
• Make it a felony for physicians to knowingly falsely certify a debilitating medical condition for patients seeking to use medical marijuana
• Make it a felony to knowingly submit false information on an application for a patient or caregiver card
• Make it a felony to knowingly alter a patient or caregiver card
• Make it a felony to knowingly possess another person’s card or to transfer or allow a person to use another person’s card
• Prohibit felons from being caregivers (currently only those convicted of drug-related felonies are prohibited); and
• Make it a misdemeanor for a patient or caregiver to fail to report a lost or stolen card within seven days.
In addition, Schuette proposed legislation to address what he claimed were “several loopholes” in the law, including measures to “strengthen the hand of law enforcement” (WTF?) “limit criminal access to medical marijuana,” and empower local communities to regulate (translate: ban) medical marijuana facilities.
Schuette said he expects the bills to be introduced and considered by the Legislature this fall.

No One is Outside of Federal Marijuana Laws, U.S. Says

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette / 2010 photo by WILLIAM ARCHIE/Detroit Free Press

Large-scale pot operators must be stopped, and even smaller-scale users and distributors are not shielded from prosecution, the U.S. says.

Large-scale pot operators must be stopped, and even smaller-scale users and distributors are not shielded from prosecution, the U.S. says. / 2010 photo by WILLIAM ARCHIE/Detroit Free Press

A memo from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington says state laws allowing medical marijuana opened the door to abuses and calls for legally targeting “large-scale, privately operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers” as well as distribution operations known as dispensaries.

The memo — which arrived June 29 in the e-mail inboxes of U.S. attorneys nationwide, including the Detroit office — says that no patient or other user is shielded from federal prosecution by state laws. The memo comes after Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette unleashed a salvo last week, saying there was widespread lawbreaking linked to medical marijuana in Michigan.

The federal memo has medical marijuana advocates feeling betrayed by the Obama administration, which had been linked with hopes for leniency in the war on drugs.

“The $64,000 question is, are the U.S. district attorneys in offices across the country really going to go after these dispensaries and grow operations? We’ll have to see,” said Art Cotter, chairman of the medical marijuana committee for the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

On Thursday, about two dozen operators of compassion centers — where patients use the drug — met near Flint to discuss the new threats to access.

“We now we have a double threat because of this (federal memo) and our own attorney general,” Rick Thompson, editor of Oak Park-based Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, said from the meeting.

U.S. pushes for strict pot law enforcement

Just when medical marijuana users are protesting plans for tighter restrictions on the drug in Michigan, a memo from federal authorities in Washington is asking for tougher enforcement.

The memo, sent from the U.S. Department of Justice to U.S. attorneys and being circulated this week among Michigan’s county prosecutors and sheriffs, is exactly what many in Michigan law enforcement said they were waiting for — a green light to stamp out what they say is proliferating drug abuse and lawbreaking under the cover of medical marijuana.

According to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, the memo shows that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act — passed by 63% of voters in 2008 — is entirely pre-empted by federal drug law.

“We are making that case as we defend Livonia’s commonsense zoning ordinance in court,” Schuette spokeswoman Joy Yearout said.

The Livonia ordinance amounts to a total ban on medical marijuana cultivation and use in the city, lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union have said in the case.

Defense attorneys, operators of medical marijuana facilities, such as compassion clubs, and medical marijuana users decried the memo as a step backward.

“This is an attack on the patient community,” said Kristen Ford, field director for the nonprofit Americans for Safe Access, based in Washington, D.C.

Rick Thompson, editor of the Oak Park-based Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, said Thursday: “All of us are more concerned now with federal intrusion.”

State law no shield

The Justice Department memo says, without naming specific states, that “planned facilities have revenue projections of millions of dollars, based on the cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants.”

Such large-scale operators must be stopped, and even smaller-scale users and distributors are not shielded from federal prosecution, “even where those activities purport to comply with state law,” says the memo signed by U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole. Some say the memo makes clear that the Obama administration, contrary to the sense of a 2009 memo, opposes giving leniency to medical marijuana users.

“There was this feeling that the local police and prosecutors were on their own” for enforcing drug laws against people claiming a medical need for pot, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said Thursday.

“Now, I think we’re all going to see that the abuses have to stop at all levels. When this law passed in Michigan, every person who voted for it had good intentions. But what we’ve seen is that for every one person who uses medical marijuana responsibly, someone else is abusing it and profiting from it,” Smith said.

Federal authorities are not changing their policy but instead are trying to correct a misreading of their stance, Berrien County Prosecutor Art Cotter said. Law enforcers and marijuana users alike misinterpreted an October 2009 memo from the Justice Department that “seemed to suggest, ‘Don’t go after medical marijuana patients,’ ” Cotter said. He chairs the medical marijuana committee for the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

“People read into that the idea that, as long as something complied with state law, the feds would not get involved. Now, this new memo is saying, no, dispensaries and large grow operations are not immune from our prosecution,” he said.

Federal prosecutors sued the Michigan Department of Community Health last year to obtain records of seven patients who are part of a criminal drug investigation. The government won its demand in early June, in spite of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act’s promise of confidentiality to anyone who receives state approval. Last week, a Traverse City attorney representing the Michigan Association of Compassion Clubs asked for a stay in the case until an appeal can be heard.

Focus not on patients

Although precise statistics were unavailable this week, it appears that federal authorities have continued to prosecute alleged violations of federal marijuana laws on a regular basis since passage of the state’s medical marijuana law.

Some of the cases have been brought against growers who initially claimed to be operating in accordance with the state statute. But federal law enforcement officials said such a defense is irrelevant in a federal prosecution.

“We’re going to enforce federal law,” Rich Isaacson, a special agent in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Detroit office, said Thursday. Nevertheless, the focus of federal law enforcement is on “large-scale growers,” not on medicinal users and caregivers operating within state law, Isaacson said.

In one federal prosecution begun in December, a pair of Ingham County men were each charged with the manufacture of more than 100 marijuana plants, a federal felony punishable by a minimum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million. Both pleaded guilty in May in an agreement with prosecutors expected to minimize potential prison time.

The agreement makes no mention of medical marijuana.

Contact Bill Laitner: 586-826-7264 or blaitner@freepress.com

No One Is Outside Federal Marijuana Laws, U.S. Says

A memo from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington says state laws allowing medical marijuana opened the door to abuses and calls for legally targeting “large-scale, privately operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers” as well as distribution operations known as dispensaries.

The memo — which arrived June 29 in the email inboxes of U.S. attorneys nationwide, — says that no patient or other user is shielded from federal prosecution by state laws. The memo comes after Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette unleashed a salvo last week, saying there was widespread lawbreaking linked to medical marijuana in Michigan.

The federal memo has medical marijuana advocates feeling betrayed by the Obama administration, which had been linked with hopes for leniency in the war on drugs.

“The $64,000 question is, are the U.S. district attorneys in offices across the country really going to go after these dispensaries and grow operations? We’ll have to see,” said Art Cotter, chairman of the medical marijuana committee for the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

U.S. pushes for strict pot law enforcement

Just when medical marijuana users are protesting plans for tighter restrictions on the drug in Michigan, a memo from federal authorities in Washington is asking for tougher enforcement.

The memo, sent from the U.S. Department of Justice to U.S. attorneys and being circulated this week among Michigan’s county prosecutors and sheriffs, is exactly what many in Michigan law enforcement said they were waiting for — a green light to stamp out what they say is proliferating drug abuse and lawbreaking under the cover of medical marijuana.

According to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, the memo shows that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act — passed by 63 percent of voters in 2008 — is entirely pre-empted by federal drug law.

Defense attorneys, operators of medical marijuana facilities, such as compassion clubs, and medical marijuana users decried the memo as a step backward.

“This is an attack on the patient community,” said Kristen Ford, field director for the nonprofit Americans for Safe Access, based in Washington, D.C.

State law no shield

The Justice Department memo says, without naming specific states, that “planned facilities have revenue projections of millions of dollars, based on the cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants.”

Such large-scale operators must be stopped, and even smaller-scale users and distributors are not shielded from federal prosecution, “even where those activities purport to comply with state law,” says the memo signed by U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole. Some say the memo makes clear that the Obama administration, contrary to the sense of a 2009 memo, opposes giving leniency to medical marijuana users.

“There was this feeling that the local police and prosecutors were on their own” for enforcing drug laws against people claiming a medical need for pot, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said Thursday.

“Now, I think we’re all going to see that the abuses have to stop at all levels. When this law passed in Michigan, every person who voted for it had good intentions. But what we’ve seen is that for every one person who uses medical marijuana responsibly, someone else is abusing it and profiting from it,” Smith said.

Federal authorities are not changing their policy but instead are trying to correct a misreading of their stance, Berrien County Prosecutor Art Cotter said. Law enforcers and marijuana users alike misinterpreted an October 2009 memo from the Justice Department that “seemed to suggest, ‘Don’t go after medical marijuana patients,’ ” Cotter said. He chairs the medical marijuana committee for the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

“People read into that the idea that, as long as something complied with state law, the feds would not get involved. Now, this new memo is saying, no, dispensaries and large grow operations are not immune from our prosecution,” he said.

ABC-

Michigan Store Sold Alcohol and Marijuana From the Same Location

Screen shot 2011-06-15 at 9.36.14 AM.png
Photo: NewsChannel 3
Jeffrey Hagerman, Karl’s Korners:
“We had opened up a dispensary in the back”

​A corner store in West Michigan, specializing in party items like beer and chips, was recently raided for also dispensing marijuana.

The son of the owner of Karl’s Korners in Oswego said he has a medical marijuana license, and so does his partner. But selling marijuana out of a party store is against both liquor laws and a local ordinance, reports WWMT NewsChannel 3.
“We had opened up a dispensary in the back,” said Jeffrey Hagerman.
Hagerman said they started up a compassion center in the back of the business, beyond he beer cooler and the snack counter.
“My partner and I both hard medical marijuana cards, performed patient-to-patient transactions,” Hagerman said.

Screen shot 2011-06-15 at 9.36.42 AM.png
Photo: NewsChannel 3
Gimme a six-pack, a quarter-ounce, and a bag of chips.
Authorities put the kibosh on the budding business last week when they raided Karl’s Korners in the small Oswego neighborhood of Otsego and took the marijuana, along with rolling papers, storage jars, and just about anything else they thought might be “marijuana-related.”
It’s against liquor laws to sell marijuana and alcohol from the same location, and Otsego has an ordinance prohibiting such sales as well.
Of course, the news station was able to locate a few neighbors who were just horrified by this evil marijuana stuff, and they didn’t mind having some drama for the benefit of reporters. Some of the pot-fearing folks of Otsego told NewsChannel 3 that Karl’s is no longer a place where their kids stop in to buy candy. Hell, even some of the parents will no longer go there even to buy milk or bread.
“It’s nowhere I let my kids go near,” said Angie Gardner.
Gardner said that a few years ago Karl’s was a mom and pop shop where quick stops were frequent, but that was before the longtime owners sold the place. Now, some neighbors of the store want it shut down.
“It’s not a staple, not a place we want in the neighborhood,” Gardner claimed.
Hagerman reasonably said that if people don’t like his store, they shouldn’t go there. He said the rules stopping him from selling marijuana violate the spirit of what the voters of Michigan approved, and he said the marijuana dispensary was helping keep Karl’s a viable business.
“One of the things,” Hagerman said, “trying to bring business in, revitalize the neighborhood, help the store.”
Hagerman said he’s still trying to find out what consequences might be coming from the liquor commission or local authorities. My guess is that is alcohol license has a lifespan measured in hours at this point.

Police Seize 8,000 Marijuana Plants in Michigan – Largest Marijuana Bust

An anonymous tip led to the confiscation of an estimated $8 million worth of marijuana from a Rome Township couple’s rural home.

Edwin and Linda Schmieding, both 60, remain in the Lenawee County Jail after bonds were set at $1.5 million for him and $1 million for her Tuesday afternoon in Lenawee County District Court. Both are charged with manufacturing more than 200 marijuana plants and with conspiracy. Edwin Schmieding also faces a felony firearm charge stemming from numerous handguns and long guns police seized from the home at 12501 Rome Road.

The couple are accused of growing more than 8,000 marijuana plants on their Rome Road property west of Hawkins Highway that had been a commercial flower farm. Doug Hartung, assistant Lenawee County prosecutor, said local officials are also talking with federal authorities because an operation of this size is far beyond personal use.

The raid was carried out by members of the Michigan State Police Office of Monroe Narcotics Investigation (OMNI) Team 3, which includes officers from some Lenawee County police departments. The Jackson Narcotics Enforcement Team also assisted.

OMNI officers and other law enforcement officials spent Monday night and much of Tuesday harvesting plants. Michigan State Police Lt. Steve Galbreath said the final count is 8,023 marijuana plants. They were in various stages of growth in several locations on the property.

Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk said the plants ranged from seedlings to fully grown, 6-foot-tall stalks, leading officials to suspect a potential wider range for their investigation.

“This is probably the most extensive marijuana growing operation that I can remember in the Hillsdale and Lenawee area,” Adamczyk  said. “This will put a crimp in some marketing somewhere.”

Calculating a potential one pound of marijuana per plant, officials estimated the street value of the bust to be more than $8 million. The price is $1,000 per pound on the street, Galbreath said.

The growing operation, which appears to have been going on for several years, included a greenhouse and several fields. Many of the plants were hidden among pine trees on the property, he said.

“This was well-hidden. It is a very rural environment,” Adamczyk said. “If you drove past it, you wouldn’t be able to see anything.”

Edwin and Linda Schmieding appeared distraught during a video arraignment from jail Tuesday afternoon. District Judge James E. Sheridan had to repeat several portions of the arraignment for them. Both said they are receiving Social Security disability and do not have money to hire their own attorneys. Public defenders were appointed.

“I don’t think either one of us are a great flight risk,” Edwin Schmieding said while Sheridan was setting bond.

He set bond at $500,000 per count. The couple face maximum 15-year prison terms and $10 million fines on the marijuana and conspiracy counts. Edwin Schmieding faces a mandatory two-year prison term if convicted of the felony firearm count.

Lenawee County Sheriff Jack Welsh said the investigation began with an anonymous tip to a detective, who alerted the drug enforcement team. OMNI officers went to the scene to begin the investigation and noticed the smell of marijuana. That was enough evidence to secure a search warrant, said Hartung.

When they continued to investigate, officers found nearly 1,000 plants in a greenhouse. The search turned up an extensive growing operation that included lights, a watering system and ventilation equipment.

State police Lt. Tim Gill said officers also confiscated several handguns which were in a locked safe along with about $2,500 in cash. The property is subject to forfeiture, Gill said.

The Schmiedings did not resist and did not have criminal records, said Adamczyk.

OMNI Team 3 is a multi-jurisdictional task force made up of officers from the state police, Lenawee County Sheriff’s Department, Raisin Township Police Department the Adrian Police Department.

Daily Telegram staff writer Dennis Pelham contributed to this report.

Jury Convicts 70-Year-Old Woman For Medical Marijuana

Barb Agro defendant doc4dee6aa4b9e82141413668.jpg
Photo: Oakland County Daily Tribune
Barb Agro, 70, was barred from mentioning during the trial that
she is a registered, legal medical marijuana patient.
A 70-year-old woman was convicted on a marijuana charge by a Michigan jury after they were instructed by the assistant prosecutor to “follow the law and not use sympathy” when weighing her fate.
“You must hold the defendant accountable for her actions,” said Assistant Prosecutor Beth Hand during her closing argument.

In the end, the jury heeded the prosecutor’s advice and decided to convict Barbara Agro, a registered medical marijuana patient and caregiver, as charged, reports Ann Zaniewski at the Oakland County Daily Tribune. Agro faces sentencing on July 13 for one count of delivery/manufacture of marijuana, a felony which can get four years in prison.

oakland circuit judge wendy potts flip doc4dd079caa7cd8116504841.jpg
Photo: The Oakland Press
Circuit Judge Wendy Potts ponders one of her “head up the ass” style rulings
The former Lake Orion police dispatcher worked as a receptionist at Clinical Relief, a medical marijuana dispensary in Ferndale. When the place was raided on August 25, 2010, Agro told deputies that she had marijuana plants growing at her house. Deputies found 19 cannabis plants and “other items” during a serch of her Lake Orion home.
Defense attorney Jerome Sabbota said Agro used cannabis for medicinal reasons.
“In this case here, we have a person who was growing medicine for herself,” Sabbota said.
Sabbota pointed to old laws, such as those surrounding prohibition and a law that once made it a crime to harbor a runaway slave. In his opening statement yesterday, he told jurors that laws sometimes need to be changed.
Assistant Prosecutor Hand said that Sabbota did not contest any elements of the charged crime. She said that marijuana, in the state of Michigan, is still illegal, and said Agro is not charged with using marijuana, but with growing it.
“This is not a medical marijuana case,” the assistant prosecutor claimed.
Hand referenced Agro’s age and told jurors that all different types of people break the law.
“The law is, that sympathy and prejudice have no place in the courtroom,” Hand said.
Oakland Circuit Judge Wendy Potts, who evidently issues rulings with her head up her ass, previously granted a motion from prosecutors seeking to prohibit Agro from mentioning the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act during the trial.
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