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Judge Dismisses Marijuana Clinic Charges

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The operators and employees of several medical marijuana facilities will not stand trial.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Lane, in a court order Tuesday evening, dismissed all charges against Debra, Doug, James, and Amanda Amsdill, and Mark and Terra Sochacki.

They had been facing charges ranging from conducting a criminal enterprise to conspiracy to deliver/manufacture marijuana.

The Amsdills and Sochackis were alleged to have conspired to aid or made possible a transfer of marijuana to patients they were not connected with through the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act registry, Lane wrote in her opinion.

The charges stemmed from a federal investigation and raid on the Blue Water Compassion Center facilities in St. Clair, Sanilac and Tuscola counties in December 2011.

Matt Newburg, the attorney for Debra and Amanda Amsdill, asked the charges be dismissed as the Amsdills’ alleged activities happened before they were made illegal through a Michigan Supreme Court opinion.

“The people participating in that activity didn’t have fair notice,” Newburg said.

Paul Tylenda, James and Doug Amsdill’s lawyer, and Scott Moeller, Terra and Mark Sochacki’s lawyer, joined the motion.

“The law’s been very confusing over the last few years and it lends itself to a lot of different legal arguments,” Moeller said. Moeller’s clients, the Sochackis, were employees of the Blue Water Compassion Center, he said.

Newburg said a ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court clarified sections of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, and criminalized practices the Blue Water Compassion Center allegedly employed in 2011.

“The basis of the opinion was, at the time that the attorney general was alleging they had committed a crime, the MMMA had not been interpreted in a way that would say it was a crime,” Tylenda said.

In Lane’s court order Tuesday, she said the Supreme Court’s ruling was an ex post facto law, meaning that it applied retroactively to the compassion center’s practices which were not criminal at the time of the investigation.


“Defendants could not have been on notice that the Michigan Supreme Court would interpret the MMMA as it did,” Lane said in the court order. “Its holding was not foreseeable.”

Newburg said a case similar to the Amsdills’ was dismissed recently in Ingham County.

“This is the second time I’ve argued this motion and it’s the second time it’s been granted,” Newburg said.

Both cases were prosecuted by Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office and both involved undercover law enforcement, Newburg said.

“These cases are very time specific,” Newburg said. “They’re activities that happened before the Supreme Court decision came out.”

The Ingham County case was taken to the Court of Appeals by the attorney general office. Newburg said it’s possible Schuette could do the same with the Amsdills’ case.

Joy Yearout, director of communications for Schuette, said the office is reviewing Lane’s decision as the attorney general considers his next step.

Debra Amsdill declined comment when contacted over the phone, and referred all questions to Tylenda.

Both Tylenda and Newburg said they weren’t certain if the Amsdills’ care centers in Kimball Township, Worth Township and Richville had remained open during the court proceedings, nor did they know if the facilities were currently open.

On Wednesday, the Blue Water Compassion Center in Kimball Township was open.

Newburg said the Amsdills were very happy with Lane’s decision.

“I think that’s a great conclusion,” Newburg said.



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C'mon reporter, tell the whole story. Explain how the Supreme Court narrowly defined a law, in order to make illegal that which "any reasonable person , using common language, would have believed to be legal". Tell people what the judge said regarding the Supreme Court's interpretation of the MMMA.


Yes, they got off due to "ex-post facto" rules, but that is only half the story of what the judge said re: this case.


This reporter's biases are showing.

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