CMET delivers message to five groups from prosecutor based on appeals court ruling

By Ryan Jeltema • Last Updated 6:08 pm on Thursday, September 15, 2011

STANTON — Area medical marijuana dispensaries and cooperatives have been put on warning: Stop illegal transactions or face criminal charges.
Central Michigan Enforcement Team (CMET) Sgt. Joel Abendroth said he and other police officers have visited five separate medical marijuana groups in Crystal, Greenville, Stanton and Trufant to deliver that message.
“They were told to cease breaking the law because the behaviors they were engaging in were in violation of the law,” Abendroth said. “They know what is being interpreted as illegal behavior.”
The message stems from Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea Krause’s interpretation of an August Michigan Court of Appeals ruling that says caregivers — or growers — are only allowed to sell marijuana to their five registered patients under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.
Under the medical marijuana law, caregivers can have up to five patients to whom they provide marijuana and patients must be registered to one caregiver or grow their own.
Abendroth said some cooperatives and dispensaries have been fostering sales and exchanges among all their members, not bound by the five patient rule.
“These were locations where caregivers were delivering medicine to qualified patients, but the patients were not their registered patients,” he said.
Operators of the cooperatives and dispensaries found in violation of the marijuana act could face a charge of delivering marijuana like anyone caught dealing the drug on the streets.
Mid-Michigan Compassion Club found Dave Overholt said CMET officers visited the club’s Evergreen Township headquarters three times over the past couple weeks to deliver warnings. He said officers on the last visit said they would seek criminal charges if they found illegal activity continuing.
He said as of Wednesday the club is ending its services of providing marijuana plants and materials to caregivers.
“We scaled back our operation until we can figure this out so nobody gets arrested,” Overholt said. “Nobody did anything wrong. We complied as best we can with what our prosecutor has decided we can do.”
He believes the action is putting patients and the community at risk and takes jobs away from 3,400 registered caregivers.
“We cannot get medications to patients any longer. All the baked goods, oils, tinctures, pills, etc. cannot be delivered to anyone who does not have us as a caregiver,” Overholt said. “This means hundreds of people who don’t have a caregiver or who have a caregiver that cannot grow enough go without meds completely or patients will be getting meds illegally.”
Officials from the compassion club met with their legal counsel Wednesday afternoon. They have a meeting set up with State Sen. Judy Emmons and State Rep. Rick Outman in Lansing today to discuss the issue.
“We would like to know what we have done wrong,” Overholt said. “We have followed the law to a T. We have helped thousands of patients and we have bettered our community.”
He claims the compassion club repeatedly has asked local law enforcement for guidance to clear up the gray areas in the medical marijuana law but has received none.
“In this county, our tower of hope was to get the farmers back to farming,” Overholt said. “By shutting us down, our prosecutor has run her plane into our community tower of hope. Leaders that go against the will of the people and the law of the state are seen as traitors by their constituents.”
Krause said she never ordered any medical marijuana groups to close. She only clarified the medical marijuana law based on the recent appeals court ruling.
“Neither I nor the police shut them down,” Krause said. “Law enforcement, including police and prosecutors, enforce the law as written and as further interpreted by the courts. We are only trying to provide notice to people that they need to comply with the law.”
She still sees a legal role for medical marijuana groups to provide.
“There are a lot of things a compassion club could do, like facilitate finding caregivers for people who don’t have one. Then the patient could get registered with that caregiver,” Krause said.
Overholt is planning a rally at 2 p.m. Oct. 7 in front of the Montcalm County Court Complex.

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