DEA, Detroit Police Hit Marijuana Dispensaries Hard With 7 Raids
21 Aug, 2013
Three raids confirmed in Detroit, one in Warren; Ann Arbor raid follows Walled Lake and Ypsilanti federal actions[caption id="attachment_6233" align="aligncenter" width="190"] DEA badge[/caption]
by Rick Thompson
August 21, 2013
DETROIT- For the third time in three weeks, DEA agents have executed a state-issued warrant and raided a Michigan medical marijuana dispensary. In a seemingly unrelated series of actions, Detroit area dispensaries have seen at least four raids on distribution centers within the past week- including one in the city of Warren.
People’s Choice in Ann Arbor was raided on Tuesday, August 20. Special Agent Rich Isaacson of the DEA confirmed to media that his federal agents had executed a state-issued warrant on the facility. Insiders say that there were no arrests made; People’s Choice announced via social media that they would remain closed until further notice.
One of nine facilities allowed to operate within the city but without an ordinance protecting them, People’s Choice is also a member of the Ann Arbor Medical Cannabis Guild. The Guild is one of Michigan’s most powerful cannabis business groups. Ann Arbor is internationally famous for their permissive attitude regarding marijuana: the city is the site of the annual Hash Bash celebration, they pioneered the $5 fine for marijuana possession in the 1970’s and that decriminalization model has been duplicated elsewhere.
On July 30, DEA agents raided a licensed medical marijuana facility in Ypsilanti and, two days later, raided a distribution center in Walled Lake. Agent Isaacson confirmed that all three raids consisted of federal agents executing a warrant issued by state judges. None of the search warrants used in the three raids have been made available to attorneys representing those facilities, making definitive proof of this impossible to attain.
In Detroit, officers raided Green Cross and Chronic Releaf on 8 Mile Road; Shake and Bake on Schaefer Highway near 7 Mile Road; and Relief Choices, a clinic in Warren. In the Green Cross raid, state police and agents of the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were reported to be involved. The other three raids were conducted by Detroit police officers. Additional raids in the city have been rumored but are difficult to confirm.
In the Detroit Police Department (DPD) raids an unusual pattern has emerged, one of a quick entry and a quick exit. Officers are snatching marijuana and money but making no arrests, forfeiting no automobiles and usually leaving no official documents to prove they were ever there. A warrant was reportedly left with the Warren raid at Relief Choices but a copy of that document was not available for review.
In one of the DPD raids, officers arrived in a dilapidated mini van and a blacked-out SUV bearing no lights nor official markings. These ‘smash and grab’ raids seem to end when the easy money is found or when business employees produce cameras and start taking pictures.
Journalist and host of WFNT’s radio program, “The Political Twist Up Show” (PTU), Steve Greene, contacted the DPD. They refused comment on the raids. Greene said, “I called the Warren police department and they seemed to have no idea the raid had even taken place.”
National cannabis rights organization Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has a Michigan chapter and they issued a raid alert in response to the action in Ann Arbor. Michigan has a robust cannabis community and an active media presence; interviews and more details about the raids will be discussed on the Planet Green Trees Internet broadcast and the PTU broadcast on both the Internet and on real radio.
In Ypsilanti, one local police officer who was observing the federal raid brought city officials to the building to observe and document a code violation: an ashtray in a back room containing what appeared to be two partially-burned marijuana joints. The alleged cannabis cigarettes were never taken by the various police agencies involved; they were never tested and the only real evidence available is a single photo. Consuming cannabis on site is a violation of the facility’s business license and, after a shocking attempt at revoking that license, the business owners have accepted a 60-day suspension of operation as a penalty.
The use of DEA agents to serve state-issued warrants is of a particular concern to Michigan’s licensed and registered patient base of over 130,000 citizens. 1.6% of all adults in Michigan are registered as patients in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program. In Ypsilanti, city officials cooperated with the raid team while in Walled Lake, local officers refused to assist federal agents; the DEA reportedly pulled in police from surrounding communities to provide support during the raid.
This report was prepared with the assistance of Steve Greene and Jamie Lowell. Rick Thompson can be reached at 586 350-8943 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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