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Grand Rapids Marijuana Raids Put Focus On Lansing


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LANSING - The closing of three medical marijuana dispensaries in the Grands Rapids area this week could send more customers to Lansing dispensaries.

It also could put a spotlight on local enforcement in what is still an unevenly regulated industry.

While Lansing City Council members and the City Attorney's Office mull proposed commercial and residential marijuana ordinances, the Kent County Sheriff's Department keeps issuing search warrants. On Monday, they forced three dispensaries to shut down and raided four other locations.

Kent County deems all dispensaries illegal, interpreting the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008 differently from many other cities, Lansing among them.

Its important to crack down on dispensaries, Kent County Undersheriff Michelle Lajoye-Young said, because it's unfair and unsafe to play favorites.

"Otherwise give perceived protection," Lajoye-Young said.

Lansing officials have estimated there could be up to 70 medical marijuana establishments operating in the city. Before a May 21 moratorium was set on the opening of new establishments, the businesses were left to operate at their own peril. In many ways, due to a lack of regulations and enforcement, they still are.

Pat Olin, 58, who lives in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming, visits Lansing dispensaries once every two weeks for marijuana to help treat epilepsy and chronic pain. He plans to stay away from the seven dispensaries within 20 miles of his home because of Kent County's recent raids.

Olin visited one dispensary in Kent County's Plainfield Township just a few days before it was shut down by police.

"“The raids put more fear in the patient," Olin said. "What happens to the patient that’s right by the building when it’s raided? Are they arrested, too?”

The Michigan Marihuana Act of 2008 allows state-licensed patients to get medical marijuana from a licensed caregiver. But the definition of a caregiver remains under interpretation. According to current law, a caregiver can also grow up to 72 plants in their home because they are allowed to care for up to five patients. A patient can also grow up to 12 plans in their home.

A state-appointed board is expected to be formed next month to help determine how new laws should be enacted.

Governor Rick Snyder signed in September a bill that provides for licensing of dispensaries and other establishments. The bill also approved regulation of growers, processors, transporters and safety compliance facilities. He also signed two separate bills that create a "seed-to-sale" tracking system for medical marijuana and allow for the production of non-smokable forms, including brownies or oils.

Cities such as Lansing are trying to prepare for the new laws by crafting local ordinances that allow licences for commercial establishments like dispensaries. But it has been an often tedious process that's led to several public meetings and debates over multiple drafts.

"It's an evolving issue this year, and it will continue to evolve as the (state) statute comes in," Lansing City Attorney Jim Smiertka said Friday afternoon in a Committee on Public Safety meeting at City Hall.

Despite legislative uncertainty, most of Lansing's dispensary owners plan to stay in business and welcome patients, wherever they come from.

Jacob Rufenacht, owner of a Lansing dispensary called Kind, said he had five West Michigan patients visit his dispensary in the first 90 minutes it was open on Friday morning. He estimates about "five to 10" patients from that area visit his place daily.

“People do need their medication, and that’s not going away," Rufenacht said. "They aren’t going to just stop getting it.”

If a Lansing ordinance for commercial establishments is approved by council members, it could require all dispensaries and related business to purchase a license through the city. In its current form, the ordinance wouldn't set a cap on the number of dispensaries.

The latest draft of a proposed residential marijuana ordinance requires owners of homes where medical marijuana is grown to register with the city if they use more than 3,500 kilowatt hours of electricity per month — intermittent or continuous. Homes where marijuana isn't grown would also have to register with the city, as well, if they exceed the monthly kilowatt limit.

It's unclear when the city's proposed ordinances could come to council members for a vote. Council's Committee on Public Safety decided on Friday to send the proposed residential ordinance to the full eight-member body. Council members are expected to set a public hearing about the ordinance for 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at City Hall in council's chambers.

The proposed commercial ordinance remains under review by the city's Planning Board. The board meets 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Neighborhood Empowerment Center, 600 W. Maple St.

The proposed ordinances don't scare Chad Morrow, a dispensary owner in Gaylord. He visits Lansing twice a week to purchase medical marijuana and marijuana-infused products for his Gaylord dispensary called Cloud 45, which has been raided three times in the last 13 months by police, but remains open.

Morrow questions why the city needs more regulations at a time when it already has a great reputation for embracing a growing industry.

"They aren't enforcing anything," Morrow said of city officials. "To me it's just smoke and mirrors. With Lansing, everybody knows this is a safe place to go."

Mayor Virg Bernero called for the moratorium on new dispensaries, but said in October the dispensaries haven't drawn widespread complaints and don't create a "crime explosion."

On Friday, Deputy City Attorney Mark Dotson told council's public safety committee that the office had received one complaint about commercial establishments from the public since its last meeting about two weeks ago. Last month, the office followed up on 17 complaints and found that none resulted in moratorium violations.

For several months, At-Large Council Member Carol Wood has chaired the public safety committee with a sense of urgency to get both proposed ordinances ready for approval. She's more concerned about setting fair, legal policy that sets a standard residents can understand than pay attention to those who frequent dispensaries.

"When you ignore the law that’s out there, it sets a bad precedent for everything," Wood said.



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I've spoken to the manager of one of the dispensaries.  He said that patients onsite during the raid had all of their cash taken from them and wasn't given back.


and I know your post is sarcastic Cristi, but really they just said, a board will be formed to figure all of it out.  I am not sad that the dispensaries were raided, but I am sad that the patients do not have access to meds.  I know a lot of people here hate dispensaries, think they are all greedy, don't care, etc.  But I can tell you that isn't the case, and some people really get to know the tenders at dispensaries, and do get genuine relief, and prefer that to caregivers.  some will say that they don't know how, etc, but just like coffee vs tea, if you don't like coffee, no one forces it on you.  But if you like coffee, you should have it as an option.


Anyway, it's horrible what they are doing here in Kent Co.  I wish the patients would get together and sue Kent Co and the DA to get a injunction to hold off until the end of next year.


I have people walking into my store all the time asking if I know where they can get meds...  My answer is, I know some caregivers that can help you out, but I am so sorry that you have to make a 2 hour trip each way to get meds.  I know one person who's husband is in ICU, may die any hour, and she can't get meds now without driving to lansing.  She won't go because he may not be there when she gets back.  Is that fair to her?  Is it fair to him?

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I never said I like the new bills, I think they are poorly worded, and just wrong on so many levels.  Like do you really need to transport product 5 times to make it to a store front, with new fees at each tranport?  Silly if you ask me.  


However, as long as they don't remove the CG's, it opens up avenues for patients that wouldn't normally be there.  I would rather have overpriced dispensaries than none at all.  If your CG gets spider mites and is down for 2 months, a lot of patients can't go that long without meds.  So then they have no avenues, for the reasons Zap said.  However with a dispensary, they now have options, maybe high priced options, but at least you aren't left out in the cold like so many are right now in Kent.


I am filling up my wife as a CG just because she's empty and we can help people.  And a lot of people are desperate right now.

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If this dispensary owner actually cared, he would have run a Compassion club or even a caregiver group that would have legally supplied patients and created a strong community that could have easily overcome a local dispensary(corner drug dealer) closing by simply walking down to the protest with 3 Cg's.  From what I seen, there were only like 8 patients there to protest. 2 caregivers could have solved that immediate problem,.... on the news even.  "Medical Marihuana Community comes together and takes care of itself".  But instead, we have out of luck patients, fewer caregivers and a dilapidated community. And a dispensary owner talking bad about the Act, bad about "street marijuana(caregivers I guess)", saying old ladies must don their lady of the night clothes and go sell drugs on the street corner.  What an upstanding individual looking out for the community.  Hahaha.

Or,... if we had Caregicer groups or Compassion clubs, like I said,... Dispensary owner whines,... we show up in a van and solve the problem.


 Thanks dispensary owners!!!  Greed over community.


We needed to fight for personal rights instead of commercial rights.


 But hey, wtvr.


 That boat sailed.


 Everyone has their law for dispensaries now, written and passed by dispensaries and commercial interests.  It is pretty much what I expected and said it would be.

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If this dispensary owner actually cared, he would have run a Compassion club or even a caregiver group that would have legally supplied patients and created a strong community that could have easily overcome a local dispensary(corner drug dealer) closing by simply walking down to the protest with 3 Cg's. From what I seen, there were only like 8 patients there to protest. 2 caregivers could have solved that immediate problem,.... on the news even. "Medical Marihuana Community comes together and takes care of itself".


This could have happened but didn't. You can't make CG take on patients, and you can't make patients buy meds out of a trunk at McDonalds. FYI I do not use disp. or CG, I have been to only two disp. ever. One in Ann Arbor really helped me get started on my own with clones and seeds (which was a huge portion of their sales imagine that, since their "against" home grows) havent needed to go back in years. My CG experience was short lived, I wanted to try and grow my own, did several interviews like 7-8 not a good time at all f that. I was to young(mid 30's) for a couple, two tried to tell me that to have a CG I had to sign over my grow rights(talk about loosing grow rights) the rest couldn't do it without my plant count, the last one to get back in touch with me was from here and the sent me an initial email with their full name attached to the email and I did a simple google search and did not like what I found it scared the crap out of me.


Sorry rambled butter must be taking hold.

Edited by Smallbiz
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I do miss the  Compassion Clubs day's and i also agree that boat sailed but it is still afloat inn  Kent County back then we had leaders to keep people up to date on the changing Law and Court Rulings that kept patients and Caregivers from being raided ( sometimes ) if we could get them to show up 


I was one of three  people that had started what was the MOCC we had as most here know Fun events without them am not sure how i myself could have made it with all the Court date we had just going to them made us feel better and of course this site the 3 MA 



Thank you 



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I do see that the city of Birmingham has taken the money that will be used against  patients and Caregivers


MEDICAL MARIJUANA OVERSIGHT: Commissioners are expected to approve a 2016 Michigan Medical Marijuana Operation and Oversight Grant Subrecipient Agreement with Oakland County.



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