NilesDaily / December 18, 2011
LANSING – Following an extensive Michigan State Police investigation of illegal activities at a chain of Lansing-area marijuana dispensaries, Attorney General Bill Schuette filed lawsuits in Ingham and Jackson counties to have three operations closed because they are public nuisances operating in violation of state law.
“The courts have made it clear that marijuana sales and so-called dispensaries are illegal under state law,” Schuette said. “The law enforcement community simply cannot look the other way when the law is being broken and putting public safety at risk.”
The lawsuits were filed against Daniel Trevino, owner/operator of three Hydro World marijuana dispensaries operated in Lansing and Jackson, and is based on a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling that that dispensaries are not permitted under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA).
The investigation by Michigan State Police, conducted from April 26, 2011, to September 28, 2011, unveiled the following scenario:
Undercover officers were charged fees by Hydro World employees to apply for a state “patient card” under the MMMA. It is alleged Hydro World employees collected the completed forms, and in one case a $70 fee, from the undercover officers. Upon returning to the stores at a later time, Hydro World employees then provided the officers medical certifications required under the MMMA to become a “patient”, pre-signed by a physician. The officers had not met or seen the physician who signed the certification, nor had they provided any medical records.
Further investigation by Michigan State Police revealed that none of the undercover officers were ever properly registered by Hydro World with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program, and none of the sellers were registered “caregivers” in the transactions. Despite this fact, it is alleged the undercover officers were later sold marijuana on multiple occasions by Hydro World employees, in violation of state law. Schuette filed two separate civil actions against Hydro World, one in Ingham County Circuit Court and one in Jackson County Circuit Court. Once each case is assigned to a judge, the defendants will have an opportunity to file responses, after which it is expected hearing dates will be set in each county.
Schuette noted the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year in People v. McQueen that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) does not authorize dispensaries and said he supports efforts by law enforcement, prosecutors and local governments to shut them down.
The Court of Appeals concluded that:
n The MMMA does not legalize marijuana;
n The MMMA authorizes marijuana use only in “very limited circumstances;”
n The “medical use” of marijuana does not include the sale of marihuana; and
n The MMMA does not authorize marijuana dispensaries.
Earlier this year, Schuette joined Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick, Midland County Prosecutor Michael Carpenter and Chesterfield Township in support of their efforts to close dispensaries in their respective communities.