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State Rep. Candidate Jailed Faces Drug Charges In Oakland County


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Oak Park — An aspiring political candidate who seeks to decriminalize marijuana in Ferndale is in the Oakland County Jail charged this week in neighboring Oak Park after allegedly attempting to deliver and sell marjuana to a police informant.


Andrew Robert Cissel, who is a Democratic candidate for state representative in District 27, was arrested Sunday by Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team officers who had conducted a surveillance and a wired informant to make purchases from Cissell on two other prior occaisons since August, according to Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe.


Team officers recovered 120 grams of marijuana (about four ounces) and $405 inside Cissell's vehicle. Investigators said Cissell also had four medical marijuana caregiver cards on him and another card identifying himself as a medical marijuana patient.


Under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, persons with a doctor's approval, can register with the the state to legally use marijuana for medical purposes. Registered caregivers can also grow and sell marijuana to a small number of cardholders.


With search warrants, officers also entered what is believed to be Cissell's residence on Renselaer in Oak Park and found 47 marijuana plants, three grow operations and two small safes containing another 838 grams of high grade marijuana, digital scales and marijuana packaging materials and parapenalia.


At another Oak Park address on Rosewood, 58 marijuana plants, an indoor watering and lighting system and similar paraphenalia used in the packaging of marijuana were seized by officers.


Officers also visited a Ferndale address on West Drayton which Cissell has reported as his official residence to submit a petition to legalize marijuana in the city of Ferndale. At that address, officers talked to John Cissell, Andrew's father, who was reported to have been fully cooperative with officers and told them that Andrew Cissel had not lived there in three years.


Investigators stressed there were no illegal substances found at the West Drayton address and no evidence that Andrew Cissell was living there.


Andrew Cissell was arraigned Wedneday before Oak Park 45-B District Judge Michelle Friedman Appel. Cissell's bond was set at $50,000 cash, no 10 percent. He is charged with five counts of delivery and manufacture of marijuana, felonies punishable by up to four years in prison.

Cissell has a pre-exam conference on Tuesday in Oak Park District Court.


District 27 includes portions of Ferndale and Oak Park. Cissel petitioned the city of Ferndale on July 30 for the decriminalization of marijuana within the city limits by obtaining 600 plus signatures from Ferndale's registered votes. The issue — to adopt a proposed ordinance that would allow adults age 21 or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana on private property — will be on the November ballot for city residents to decide.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130914/METRO02/309140055#ixzz2etawkwS6

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  • 2 years later...

A pot decriminalization advocate and two-time state representative candidate charged in a 2013 marijuana possession case was sentenced Monday to jail time and probation with strict guidelines in Oakland County Circuit Court.



Andrew Cissell, 28, was arrested and charged in September 2013 with five counts of delivery or manufacture of marijuana after a sting by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Enforcement Team.



The original counts against Cissell — who also in 2013 helped put a pot decriminalization proposal on ballots in Ferndale and other cities — had a possible penalty of up to seven years in prison if he was convicted.



Cissell, however, pleaded no contest to two lesser, added counts of illegal sale of marijuana — both felony charges — and was sentenced by Judge Hala Jarbou to 90 days in jail and two years probation after his release. He was given 10 days credit for time already served.



Some conditions to Cissell’s probation are that he turn in his medical marijuana card; not drink alcohol or smoke marijuana; be tested for drugs and alcohol twice a month and enter a drug treatment program upon release.



Cissell, who had been out on bail since his case began, was jailed in a packed courtroom after a lengthy sentencing hearing, in which his defense attorney and an Oakland County assistant prosecutor discussed the guidelines of his sentence. The original guidelines on his charges were zero to nine months in jail.



Assistant prosecutors noted several previous convictions for Cissell, including a 2006 drug offense, a 2012 drunken driving case, a fraud misdemeanor involving campaign issues in Ferndale and a 2015 medical marijuana charge. 



Prosecutors also stated that Cissell violated bond conditions to not sell or use marijuana while out on bond, that he tested positive many times for pot, and that he posted a YouTube video stating he was still selling marijuana out of a dispensary he owned in Detroit.



Cissell’s attorney, Troy-based Farris Haddad, said that Cissell’s YouTube video was an interview, and that he has sought help for rehabilitation.



Cissell said he didn’t think a jail sentence was best for him or the community.



“This law is very vague — everyone can see there’s a lot of grey area,” said Cissell. “I tried to involve what I see fit in the most civilized way which is through a ballot initiative ... in my little community, and it passed in the city, but it doesn’t excuse whether or not I broke the law. ... I’m just going to try my hardest to make my community a better place.”



Jarbou said her concern is that Cissell doesn’t follow conditions that are set for him while on bond or follow the laws of the state.



“Because you may not agree with them doesn’t mean you don’t have to abide by them,” said Jarbou. “You don’t get to decide if you have some special status if you violate the conditions of this court or the laws of the state. You’ve shown for quite a few years that because you don’t believe in (the laws) you’re choosing to violate them. If you come back, you’re going to get a lot more time than I’m about to give you.” 



At least six deputies led Cissell out of the courtroom in handcuffs following Jarbou’s ruling.



After the hearing, Cissell’s mother, Patricia Cissell, said she’s disappointed that it’s come to this point, but she feels that her son was targeted in retaliation for his pot decriminalization advocacy, which led to many cities passing similar laws as Ferndale.



“I also believe my son Andrew is ready to take responsibility and serving his time that has been doled out to him,” said Patricia Cissell, who is also an advocate.



“But the judge has been fair in the ideas she took into account and the sentence.”



The 2013 pot investigation into Cissell — who campaigned in 2013 and 2014 to be elected state representative for the state’s 27th District, which includes Ferndale, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge — reportedly used an undercover “cooperating individual.”



During the investigation, the cooperating individual wore a microphone while purchasing marijuana from Cissell — an operation set up by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.



Investigators seized $405 in cash and 120 grams of marijuana from Cissell’s car during his arrest. Later, authorities searched three homes associated with Cissell — two in Oak Park and one in Ferndale — and found more than 100 total marijuana plants, nearly 30 ounces of pot, digital scales, packaging material and paraphernalia.



Cissell, who had four medical marijuana caregiver cards on him during his arrest, is a medical marijuana patient. He is also an activist in support of police officers wearing body cameras.



Cissell has said he plans to appeal his case and hopes to bring further motions to court in his defense.



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What happens when you appeal is that the COA finds errors in sentencing and then gives him more than 90 days jail.


He can possibly get his medical card back later.


90 days jail is pretty light for what he was charged with?

No one should be in jail for a plant, this is stupid.


I don't think I'd appeal this one.

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“You have a young man who wants to change a law that is wrong and that the voters voted to change, but Oakland County can’t accept that and they want to intimidate me so I don’t do any more political stuff,” Cissell said, in a phone interview with the Free Press from jail in Pontiac.


Marijuana activist still outspoken — from county jail



Edited by bax
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He ran twice for state representative — unsuccessfully — but also led triumphant petition campaigns in five Oakland County towns to decriminalize the possession of marijuana.

Last week, 28-year-old Andrew Cissell of Oak Park began serving a 90-day sentence in the Oakland County Jail for having possessed and sold medical marijuana in amounts beyond the limits allowed by Michigan’s medical marijuana act. Cissell is a state-registered user of medical-marijuana, which he said he uses to alleviate back pain and ease bouts of anxiety. Cissell and his attorney said his prosecution was unfair, and that he was singled out by police because of his activism.

“You have a young man who wants to change a law that is wrong and that the voters voted to change, but Oakland County can’t accept that and they want to intimidate me so I don’t do any more political stuff,” Cissell said, in a phone interview with the Free Press from jail  in Pontiac.

Not so, countered Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

"There's nothing political about it," Bouchard said. "By his own behavior, he is where he is” — in jail, Bouchard said Thursday.

"There are numerous ways that people come to our attention" for investigations, Bouchard said, saying he did not know the specifics of Cissell's case: "I don't know him and I don't care to know him."

Until marijuana becomes legal, county deputies have a duty to arrest those whose activities exceed what is allowed by Michigan's medical marijuana act, he said.

Cissell declined this week to speak about his history of operating a medical-marijuana dispensary in Detroit, to which he referred in previous interviews. Bouchard said that, despite the existence of dispensaries in Detroit and around Michigan, all should be shut down until state law allows them. He went on to say that Michigan should adopt a system of state-regulated dispensaries, charged with selling pure, inspected, consistent grades of medical marijuana only to people approved to use it.

"But until we do, my people have a mission — enforce the law,” Bouchard said.

Cissell was sentenced Monday to 90 days in the Oakland County Jail, with 10 days off for time served, and he likely will be released under good-behavior rules by Sept. 8, said David Rudoi, a Royal Oak attorney who is co-counsel with another lawyer on Cissell’s case.


“I don’t know the intentions of the Oakland County sheriff’s department, but their timing was very, very interesting,” Rudoi said. Just a few days after Ferndale voters approved decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana in November 2013, “there’s a story in the paper with his face, and the next thing you know, he’s raided,” Rudoi said. In that raid, Cissell was arrested after selling marijuana to an informant of Oakland County drug investigators, according to court testimony. 

To avoid a lengthy prison term, Cissell’s previous lawyer persuaded him to plead no contest to reduced charges, Rudoi said. Yet, once Cissell learned that he would serve county jail time under the plea deal, he tried to withdraw it — acting as his own lawyer because his previous attorney resigned, Rudoi said. Cissell's motion to withdraw his plea deal failed and he was sentenced Monday by Oakland County Circuit Judge Hala Jarbou on two felony marijuana charges.

Cissell said he's worried because as a felon, he can no longer be a state-registered caregiver of medical marijuana.

"We are going to be filing again to withdraw that plea" and, if that fails, appeal the case, Rudoi said.

After his arrest, police searched two houses in Oak Park where Cissell had been living and growing cannabis, finding nearly 200 plants, investigators testified. That number was well beyond the 72-plant limit for a state-approved medical-marijuana caregiver such as Cissell. Caregivers are licensed to maintain 12 plants for each of five patients registered to them by the state’s medical-marijuana registry in Lansing, and in addition they can keep 12 plants for their own use — bringing the total to 72, according to state law.

At Cissell's residences, police found numerous items of horticultural gear as well as cash, scales and packing material, they testified. The investigation also showed that Cissell misrepresented to Ferndale's city hall staff that he lived in Ferndale when he actually was a resident of Oak Park — a violation of state election law for petition circulators, according to Ferndale city officials last year.

Cissell’s criminal history includes a previous marijuana offense and one for an operating a vehicle while impaired. Still, he remains a hero to some marijuana activists, although a prominent one said recently that Cissell's been too outspoken for his own good and reckless in his sales of the drug.

"Mr. Cissell made the choice to become an effective marijuana policy reform activist, but at the same time he was not squeaky clean in his cannabis business dealings,” said Tim Beck, a former health-insurance executive, who has bankrolled numerous marijuana-legalization efforts around the state.

Beck, now retired to a farm in western Michigan, was lavish with praise for Cissell in 2013. In those days, Cissell was prominently featured in the media, often assailing law enforcement opponents of legalizing marijuana, while he led petition drives in Berkley, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge and Oak Park. Each city later voted to approve ballot measures that made possession of small amounts of marijuana either legal or a minor civil offense.

Beck said Thursday he's sorry  to see Cissell in jail.

“If he had simply kept his mouth shut and laid low, he would not have been singled out for prosecution by Oakland County authorities,” Beck said.



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