Change Business Plans
Nearly a month after their Portage medical marijuana businesses were raided, two owners of local dispensaries are waiting to hear if they will be charged and are changing their business practices.
At the time of the Feb. 29 raids, police said marijuana delivery and weapons charges were pending against Ken Jonatzke, 64, after officers seized medical marijuana and several weapons from Pure Tobacco Supplies, the business at 8318 Portage Road attached to Jonatzke’s home. That same day, police raided Kyle’s Place LLC, at 1600 W. Centre Ave., owned by 29-year-old Kyle Chipman. At the time police said marijuana delivery charges were pending against Chipman.
Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team investigators said in a news release that caregivers at both places were selling marijuana not only to individuals with state-issued medical marijuana cards, but also “to people they were not the designated caregiver provider for, which is illegal under the current Michigan Medical Marijuana Law.”
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Fink said Wednesday that no requests for charges against either man had been submitted to his office. However, delays can occur in drug cases as investigators wait for lab results, he said. Sgt. Michael Kelley of KVET confirmed that investigators are waiting lab results on the evidence seized and, once complete, those reports will be submitted to the prosecutor’s office.
The Michigan Supreme Court announced Wednesday it would hear a case on the legality of selling medical marijuana. Locally, Kalamazoo voters could decide this fall whether three medical marijuana dispensaries should be located in Kalamazoo, based upon a proposed charter amendment filed last August by the Kalamazoo Coalition for Compassionate Care.
Chipman had said the raid would cause him to close his business and pursue a culinary degree, but on Wednesday he said he had decided to give the medical marijuana business another try. He said that, backed by investors who have expressed interest in his company, he will relocate to Allegan or Barry County and reopen.
“I decided if I have investors and a good location, I might as well,” he said.
Chipman said it worries him that he doesn’t have a job now and that he is concentrating on opening a new business. When he bought the dispensary formally known as Pure Arbor Resource Center in December, he had planned to hold classes to teach patients how to cultivate marijuana for themselves. He also expressed an interest in selling herbal supplements and vitamins. He said the investment dollars can help him with that this time around.
“I can get classes up and running right away,” he said.
Jonatzke, however, said he has no plans to continue operating a medical marijuana dispensary. “I’m just licking my wounds, running my tobacco business,” he said.
Dispensing medical marijuana wasn’t a money-making venture for him, Jonetzke said, and he helped his patients as much as he could. He still believes the raid was more about politics than crime.
“You have a few people trying to change the law and use it to their own wishes, trying to do away with what the masses really want,” he said.
He remains active in the local medical marijuana community, but said he’s given up the idea of dispensing. He’s worried about his wife’s health — she suffers from dementia and chronic pain — and his age.
“I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb in any of this,” Jonatzke said.