Jump to content

Okemos Businessman Smoked By Federal Pot Law

Recommended Posts

Dennis Forsberg thought he was doing everything right. He had filed all the necessary paperwork and cleared his business plan with attorneys, local government officials and law enforcement.


He created new companies and got a federal tax ID number. He wasn’t trying to hide anything. Yet in the end, he still got burned.

On Tuesday, the 59-year-old Okemos businessman is headed to federal prison in North Carolina for three years because he found himself in the dangerous intersection between state and federal marijuana laws. His son, Lance, has already started serving a three-year sentence in West Virginia.

“We worked so hard to be transparent,” Forsberg says. “But it worked against us.”



Forsberg’s error was leasing some of the buildings owned by the family real estate company to licensed growers, or caregivers, under Michigan’s medical marijuana law. Now instead of enjoying retirement and spoiling grandchildren, the father of four will spend years away from his family and life — even though everything he did was legal under state law. He’s outraged.



“The crime and punishment don’t make sense,” Forsberg says. “I had a great track record, and they do this to good people who think they are under the law.”

Forsberg’s wife, JoAnn, faces a lonely three years without her husband of nearly 40 years and her son. Plus, the couple still have two children in college, and finances will be tight with Forsberg behind bars. “We got caught in a trap between state and federal law,” she says.



The case highlights the tension between state and federal drug law. Michigan is one of 18 states, in addition to Washington, D.C., that have passed medical marijuana laws. And recently, Colorado and Washington state legalized the recreational use of marijuana. No matter what states do, however, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The drug is classified as a Schedule I substance, which places marijuana on par with heroin and ecstasy.


Forsberg justifiably feels betrayed by the state — and country — he loves, and he wants to get the word out to others who may think about getting involved in medical marijuana. He says the state didn’t communicate the huge risks involved. “We just want to help other families,” he says.


The Obama administration has said it doesn’t want the Justice Department to go after people who are abiding by state medical marijuana laws. That leaves Forsberg scratching his head. Because when federal agents stormed his property, it definitely seemed like he was a target.


Matthew Abel, an attorney for Cannabis Counsel in Detroit and executive director of Michigan’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says both state and federal marijuana laws need adjusting. Efforts under way in both the state Legislature and Congress could help, and they deserve lawmakers’ support.

“It’s very unfair that some are prosecuted and some are not,” Abel says.


The Forsberg family feels that unfairness acutely. The economic downtown of 2008 had hit the business hard. Real estate tanked, so when Forsberg started getting calls in early 2010 about leasing some space for growing medical marijuana, he decided he might as well. It was legal after all in Michigan. But by November of that year, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided his buildings and Forsberg had 13 federal indictments against him.

“It was scary, terrifying,” he says. “I was just devastated.”


Court records from May show that U.S. District Judge Janet Neff, with the Western District of Michigan, felt some sympathy. “This was certainly an atypical drug case,” she said. Neff also noted the attempts to comply with state law and acknowledged the situation was a “perfect storm for all of you.”

That’s not much consolation for Forsberg, who sees his days as a free man dwindling.


Forsberg, soft-spoken and fatherly, says he’s never had any previous run-ins with the law, so this sentence came as harsh wake-up call. He was treated like a drug kingpin, rather than the law-abiding citizen he tried to be. Forsberg and his wife describe themselves as proud Americans, Christians, volunteers and hard-working business owners. Felon isn’t something they wanted to add to that list.


“Our family has been devastated,” Forsberg says. “As a father, it’s like tearing some of my heart out.”

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130719/OPINION01/307190005#ixzz2ZmOWMx3o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

makes me sick to my stomach..


how dare the feds get involved in our state rights like this.. :horse:

they had better be careful.. :watching:

makes me wonder just how far the kings of ole pushed and pushed before the citizens revolted and fought back against them...something about unfair taxes if memory serves.. a Boston harbor revolt. :growl:


now they are throwing our state citizens into the tank for following state law? :unsure:

not good feds.. :excl:

not good at all. :mad:


I feel like it's way past time to end this tyrannical drive to hide the truth about cannabis.




and we intend to prove it.

cannot be schedule 1.

shall not remain schedule 1

will not stand as schedule 1 in the end.


repealed by implication drive is coming...  :phone:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not enough details on his actual charges. Sad and very unfortunate, another miscarriage of Justice but more like an Abortion. Now we can begin paying for the Feds version of Interfering in States Business in the form of Tax Subsidies that will be awarded to NCarolina for Mr Forsbergs' Lodging. How unfair can you get? Ask the Feds, seems they just dont give a f about US anyways these days...   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Things aren't really going to change on cannabis until the FEDERAL laws are changed.


When that happens the state will be much less likely to screw with cannabis users, recreational OR medical.


Right now within the states those against cannabis know they can get federal backing if they need it ... and they use it any way they can.


Thankfully Washington State and Colorado are putting it out there to be dealt with... got nothing but good things to say about Washington and Colorado... Thanks a million to the voters of BOTH states.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is all the republicans fault.


If only there were a Democratic president with control of both houses of congress in 2010 things like this wouldn't happen.



Outside, Obama had control of both the house AND senate for the first four years of his presidency, and he did NOTHING.


And before you get all riled up... I voted for him... TWICE.


Next time my vote will be split between Green Party and Libertarian.


Makes as much sense doing that as anything else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is all the republicans fault.


If only there were a Democratic president with control of both houses of congress in 2010 things like this wouldn't happen.



That statement is as one sided as it gets and couldnt be farther from the truth. You see they did have that and didnt do ANYTHING worthwhile in fact I do believe they didnt even pass the mandatory budgets much less do ANYTHING for ANYONE but themselves and the rest of the fatcats.  Keep thinking and voting that way and things will just get worse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...