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Law > News Hits

Twice burned

Marijuana raids could end up answering key legal questions

 

Published 9/1/2010

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Last week proved to be a bad one along two fronts in the ongoing battle against the police state.

At about the same time a Wayne County Circuit Court judge was upholding a Detroit Election Commission action to keep a pro-marijuana measure off the November ballot, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard and Prosecutor Jessica Cooper were holding a press conference to triumphantly display the haul of pot, marijuana-infused edibles and a few guns confiscated during a series of raids carried out on dispensaries and private homes.

In all, 17 people were busted.

As we reported earlier this year, there are definite gray areas in the medical marijuana law Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed in 2008. Last week's raids on growing operations and compassion clubs where pot is sold could prove to be the makings of a test case.

Certain aspects of the law are etched in stone says Detroit activist Tim Beck, who had a hand in writing the state law. Clearly, a patient registered with the state can grow plants for personal use, and caregivers can grow for their specified patients. Beyond that, many aspects of the law are as gray as smoke. The Oakland Press quoted Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe saying, "There is currently no place in the state of Michigan to legally purchase medical marijuana."

Beck disagrees. There may be no place where it can be legally sold, he contends, but patients, according to his reading of the law he helped write, can buy their medicine anywhere they can obtain it. It is only the sellers who run the risk of prosecution if they are not caregivers supplying one of their patients.

Aside from the arcane split hairs that will get sorted out in the courts, there is the big picture. And according to Bouchard, that big picture doesn't include Cheech and Chong movies, which he took pains to point out that, in his view, Michigan wants no part of.

But, as Jeffrey Perlman, a lawyer representing two of people busted last week, points out, dozens of cops were involved in the raids. Is this really how we want ever-dwindling resources to be spent?

Granted, it seems reasonable for municipalities to establish zoning ordinances governing where compassion clubs or dispensaries can be located. The same goes for larger grow operations. As weed-friendly as this column might be, we wouldn't want someone opening a club next to our home.

What strikes us as particularly schizophrenic is that one of the places busted last week, Clinical Relief in Ferndale, was operating in a city that only last week saw its City Council amend its zoning ordinances to allow for medical marijuana businesses at specified areas. As the Macomb Daily reported, Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins had toured the clinic shortly after it opened and said at the time it appeared to be operating within legal guidelines.

What the hell? One cop says, "Go ahead, you're legal," and another slaps cuffs on you and throws you in the slammer. It makes you wonder who's really been hitting the pipe.

And then you have Bouchard, a guy who still has to be stinging from getting thrashed at the polls in a wildly failed attempt to become the state's Republican gubernatorial candidate, telling reporters this:

"We don't want to deal with all this at all if it's within the scope of the law. It's going to divert a lot of precious resources from things we could and should be doing. This is not something we should be spending a lot of time and money on."

Well, then, why do it?

We are, after all, talking about a plant. A plant that helps people who are sick.

Our mind is boggled, and it's not from weed.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com.

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