If anyone wants to check the pulse of Michigan’s ailing medical marijuana law, the answer is in our back yard. The statute is on life support, and some law-enforcement agencies are trying to pull the plug.
An impressive array of police units executed five drug raids Dec. 9 in Tuscola, Sanilac and St. Clair counties. The Thumb Narcotics Unit, Michigan State Police, Flint Area Narcotics Group and the Denmark Township Police Department searched sites in Worth, Denmark and Kimball townships and Lexington.
That kind of firepower suggested something big. The December raids, however, were directed against medical marijuana compassion centers in Denmark, Worth and Kimball townships.
Debra Amsdill owns the facilities. The police also searched her Lexington home and her greenhouse.
The Tuscola County Prosecutor’s Office authorized the raids as part of a yearlong investigation of Michigan Controlled Substance Act violations.
No arrests were made, and no charges have been filed. The raids did achieve one result: About 3,500 Thumb area medical marijuana patients are out of medication.
In the months before Michigan voters approved the medical marijuana act in 2008, police officials were among its leading opponents. The statute, they said, would saddle law enforcement with more activities.
The Dec. 9 raids and similar ones throughout the state seem to confirm their fears. The difference, though, is the suspects believe they are obeying the law.
No one can argue that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act is perfect. It was clear the law was missing zoning provisions.
Amsdill’s Kimball Township compassion center is too close to the Landmark Academy, a charter school with classes from kindergarten through 11th grade.
There also is a legitimate concern about the partial legalization of marijuana fueling illegal drug activity. State lawmakers are working on legislation to address that and other problems the medical marijuana law has raised.
Meanwhile, law-enforcement officials are taking steps of their own. State Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a legal opinion in November that prohibits police from returning medical marijuana they seized from patients. To do so, he said, would open the officers to prosecution as drug traffickers.
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in August that dispensaries in which patients sell marijuana to other patients cannot operate. If that ruling stands, medical marijuana users effectively have no place to obtain the drug.
Laws are supposed to bring order. The medical marijuana act seems to be promoting more chaos.
Michigan voters said they wanted medical marijuana to be used legally
by patients who need it. Lansing must fix the statute and ensure the will of the voters is followed.