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How I Went From Real Estate Broker To Alleged Drug Kingpin


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In February of 2010 I answered a call from a prospective client wanting to start a medical marijuana dispensary. After Michigan’s medical marijuana law took effect in 2009 a lot of people would need commercial real estate, and since I marketed myself fairly well, a lot of them called me with questions.


 


While I specialized in office space brokerage, this call was different and I listened. We ended up talking an hour and a half that first conversation. These were real operators with a plan. Unlike the previous 20 marijuana callers that I dismissed, I took a chance on this group as a client. We started site selection immediately. This was a tricky process as any specialty realty broker can imagine,


 


maybe strip clubs and early chiropractic clinics faced similar paths, certainly not assault rifles. After discussing medical marijuana with landlords, lawyers, city officials and asking permission from several city commissions throughout southeast Michigan, the client Clinical Relief, found a willing landlord in a city that was excited about being their partner, Ferndale, Michigan.


 


Through 1 vote patients were allowed to buy marijuana, and through local control the city of Ferndale, MI allowed for the county’s first dispensary, and had a ‘say’ throughout the process.


 


It may not be too difficult to imagine, but the first dispensary in the nation’s second wealthiest county had success early on and quickly caught the attention of the media. Unfortunately, Oakland County prosecutor Jessica Cooper and Sheriff Mike Bouchard watch the news, and the clinic caught their attention as well. On August 25, 2010 SWAT teams raided Clinical Relief in Ferndale, the homes of several families, and my house. 3 years later, because of my involvement with the real estate transaction, we/I am still fighting a senseless prosecution.


 


My first experience with medical marijuana was 2001, years before any marijuana laws existed. I had recently graduated from Central Michigan University and was en route to my mother’s home to raid the fridge. Expecting her to be at work I was surprised to find her alone and crying on the couch.


 


Since my birth, she had been diagnosed with lupus and was in constant pain throughout her adult life, but no one ever noticed. As a child I was the kid that had the ‘hot mom’, she could never be confused as being ‘sick’, to me and the rest of the world she was just beautiful.


 


Not that morning though. My mom confessed to me using marijuana in order to treat her lupus over the past 20 years, and how for the past 3 weeks she was unable to get a hold of a neighbor’s’ cousin (her caregiver) who had been supplying her the medicine. She had just hung up from a disconnect operator message when I had walked in. She relied on this man and now he was gone, leaving her with no customer service or other outlet to procure.


 


Like I said, I just left Central Michigan University (no offense CMU) so acquiring medicine would not be a challenge. That was my first acquisition and transfer of medical marijuana, and according to my mom, the guy across the lake had far better stuff.


 


Ultimately the 20+ years of lupus took it’s toll and my beautiful mother passed the following year. The rheumatologists, specialists, pharmacists all knew of and encouraged my mom’s use of marijuana. Marijuana gave her relief like nothing else, it helped her quality of life. My mother and Clinical Relief are what the voters envisioned and the legislature enacted in 2008.


 


To say I was passionate about representing Clinical Relief is an understatement. During the 2 month lifespan of the enterprise, several city and government officials toured the clinic, asked questions, took notes, and 2 mayors and a supervisor even asked ‘where do you think one of these could go in my town?’


 


The Ferndale Police department did full inspections on the building, inspected the process, shared their thoughts about security layout and ultimately authorized the building department to issue a certificate of occupancy for Clinical Relief. If that was not enough validation, owners of the clinic met with Oakland County CEO L. Brooks Patterson in his office and discussed the business in detail. The county executive applauded the professionalism of the dispensary and said ‘what you are doing is ok and legal. Ferndale said yes, we say yes”.


 


Mr. Patterson (a lawyer and former prosecutor) even went as far as summarizing the discussion with Clinical Relief in a county memo on medical marijuana dispensaries that he shared just after meeting with clinic owners.


 


Through his memo, he points out that each city has the right to regulate dispensaries just like Ferndale did with Clinical Relief, and that the county would not stand in their way. Retelling what I learned during site selection, ‘some cities want dispensaries; and some do not.’


 


The memo is still the only official directive from the county and remains the only directive for dispensary operations in the county. http://www.oakgov.com/news/Documents/memo_medical_marihauna_regulations.pdf


 


So who are the defendants of the Clinical Relief case? Who was there when it was raided?


While names, faces and identities are top-secret for the privacy of most of those involved, I can explain the makeup and general character of Clinical Relief and describe some of them below.


 


Clinic Assistant 1 – This young lady was a very compassionate assistant to medical marijuana patients and thankfully her criminal charges were dismissed almost immediately. Her involvement was no different than any other of the defendants still being prosecuted today, however her father, a ‘well known’ retired Detroit Tiger may have convinced the prosecutor not to prosecute her.


 


Clinic Assistant 2 – This young lady was a very compassionate assistant to medical marijuana patients and thankfully she was never prosecuted criminally. Her involvement was no different than any other of the defendants still being prosecuted today. Her husband, an Oakland county police officer may have helped in the prosecutors decision not to prosecute.


 


When you are trying to paint a bunch of law-abiding citizens as evil drug dealers, bringing baseball players and cops in to the discussion never helps your argument.


So who got prosecuted?


 


Barb Agro (age 73) – After Oakland county sheriff Mike Bouchard held assault rifles to the head’s of Mrs. Agro’s grandchildren, he raided her residence. As a result her husband Sal had a massive heart-attack and passed away. Prior to working at the clinic Barb was a dispatcher with the Lake Orion Police Department for 30 years, and her husband Sal, a long-time high school football coach and retired UAW building manager.


 


Me (age Unknown) – Real estate professional, reader, husband, critical thinker, son, caregiver and advisor. Through my involvement with Clinical Relief I have had the opportunity to hear some amazing stories of healing.


 


 


The rest of the defendants have their own unique stories, but for the most part they are just average hard-working people that really do care about helping others. No felons or long-haired freaky people that Mrs. Cooper wants you to believe, a rather boring crew not too dissimilar from a pharmacy or medical clinic (picture CVS or Walgreen’s). Even the makeup of patients that Clinical Relief assisted were genuine and included accident victims, MS patients and high-profile celebrities, all that just wanted their privacy and medicine.


 


Dispensaries like Clinical Relief really do help people. My mom’s story of the neighbor’s cousin (her caregiver) not returning calls is not all that uncommon. Patient support for Clinical Relief and the growing number of dispensaries across the State of Michigan demonstrate their importance to the health and well being of a population. All Clinical Relief ever did was help others within the law, and in so doing trip over themselves to remain in compliance. But at all times, remained in compliance.


 


In January of 2012, after 2 years of court, motions, and pleadings drafted by one of the sharpest criminal-defense dream-teams in Michigan, we convinced Oakland County Judge Daniel O’Brien to dismiss all charges against the clinic. His decision was not made by politics but by common sense and an understanding of the law. A decision that 85% of Michigan residents and 100% of the drafters of the constitution would support .


 


 


Back in court.


Sheriff Bouchard and prosecutor Jessica Cooper openly opposed the passage of the Michigan medical marihuana act in 2008 and show no signs of redemption. It was no surprise when they appealed our decision to a very willing Michigan Court of Appeals. Our dismissal was reversed and now we decide to appeal or not to the State’s supreme court. The appeals court (supporters of Cooper and Bouchard) lacked common sense, case law and any compassion in making their decision and their written opinion is so full of smoke that it confused even the lower court judge. They chose the 15% over the 85%.


Dispensaries are legal.


 


The Michigan courts have stated that patients cannot sell to other patients marijuana, but caregivers are allowed to sell marijuana to patients. How else would someone get it right? While Jessica Cooper likes to misinform the public that “dispensaries are not legal”, this is not exactly true. Only those dispensaries that operate on the premise of patients selling to other patients the medicine (farmers market dispensaries for example).


 


The courts ruled very clear, that if a patient does sell marijuana to another patient, that that transaction could be considered a public nuisance (a civil violation) and remediated through civil action. Makes sense to me. If operators are flying marijuana flags, not carding patrons and flashing neon green through the window, then yes a city/judge/prosecutor should be able to stop it civilly and not have to file criminal charges.


 


If we assume the actions of Clinical Relief were distasteful and embarrassing to the residents of Ferndale (clearly it was to Mrs. Cooper) and patients had sold marijuana to other patients inside the clinic, instead of Clinical Relief’s strategy of licensed caregivers supplying legal patients, then prosecutor Cooper could/should file civil nuisance charges. Her current action amounts to a first-degree murder charge in a case where a traffic violation would be much more appropriate.


 


 


Furthermore, I feel that her own history of legal arguments against medical marijuana would support my position that this situation warrants lesser charges. If Mrs. Cooper feels that Clinical Relief’s actions are contrary to the public health code, then Jessica should charge Clinical Relief with a civil public nuisance complaint rather than swinging for the fences and treating us no differently from someone who sells drugs to children.


 


 


I understand the challenge of being in her position and understand that her first priority is to examine what’s legal rather than what’s right. While several judges, a county executive and I strongly believe Clinical Relief did not violate any criminal statutes,


 


I also believe that Jessica Cooper has the opportunity to strike a balance between what’s legal and what’s right by bringing more reasonable charges or dropping the matter all together. No one believed that they would face prosecution for what they reasonably believed was/is a legal activity. While it may be possible, but not likely that this prosecution is what 50.01% of our neighbors wants, it is certainly not in the public interest.


 


http://marijuanapatients.org/real-estate-broker-drug-kingpin/


Edited by bobandtorey
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This is a great reason why Dispensaries should exist.  I DO NOT want the CG/PT system to be removed, that is there and works amazingly when done correctly, but dispensaries could open more doors for patients, caregivers, and it would help keep people honest.

 

I mean if I had a CG that wasn't meeting my standards, and confronted him about it, right now with no dispensaries he has the power, but add in a dispensary down the street and now the PT has the power.

 

back to the OP, We should support the house dispensary bill and even try to push it through faster.  Mike Callton and crew should be getting the support on HB 4271 and the sooner we do this, the better for all.  It is still a gamble with the feds, but at least you wouldn't have to deal with people like Cooper, or even Schuette who opposed the MMMA of 2008.  They are all on a personal vendatta to make the MMMA not work, they are against the will of the people, and no way should they get reelected.

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She worked at the Dispensary and her son's owned it

Bob,

 

I thought the person writing the story identified themselves as the real estate broker that helped Nick Agro find the location for Clinical Relief. And as a result of his participation as a real estate broker he was arrested for drug dealing.

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Ryan Richmond is the author...

Yes, and I guess that is the problem. It completely damages the credibility of the article/post.

 

The author of the article tries to portray himself as just a "real estate broker" that helped out Nick Agro and the other partners establish a dispensary. Yet he is not "just a real estate broker" he is the unnamed partner of his story. The court documents specifically list he and Agro as the owners.."Defendants Ryan Richmond and Nicholas Agro were

charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver or conspiracy to deliver marijuana, and

conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver or conspiracy to deliver THC....." (from the COA decision). Compounding the credibility question is the fact that the article was published on a website that is registered to the location of Richmond's real estate office in Troy. The website claims to speak for 30,000 medical marijuana patients.

 

My point is not to pick on Ryan specifically, but rather to vent my frustration with the seemingly endless stream of people looking for sympathy and support when the story they tell is easily deconstructed. It makes us all look bad.

Edited by semicaregiver
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Well, I like how it is written, however they said patients can't sell to patients, but they never said CG;s are allowed to sell to any PT... 

 

His question of how else would someone get it, or for that matter get started growing their own.  It is an implied law that CG to CG and I could argue PT2PT is legal, because there is no other legal method to get started.

 

But I've been saying this for 3 years now.  It doesn't seem the CoA agrees with me.

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Well, I like how it is written, however they said patients can't sell to patients, but they never said CG;s are allowed to sell to any PT... 

 

His question of how else would someone get it, or for that matter get started growing their own.  It is an implied law that CG to CG and I could argue PT2PT is legal, because there is no other legal method to get started.

 

But I've been saying this for 3 years now.  It doesn't seem the CoA agrees with me.

I am sure you could argue that it is legal but that would take a lot of Money and a jury to here it and we have not seen the lather 

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I am sure you could argue that it is legal but that would take a lot of Money and a jury to here it and we have not seen the lather 

exactly...  I was just trying to point out that the CoA did not say that CG to CG was legal.  They didn't mention it either way.  The OP seemed to say that the CoA said CG2CG was OK, which they did not.

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