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Police Cite Drastic Increase In Pot-Related Arrests As State Scrambles With Shifting Laws


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DEARBORN — The police departments in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights are citing a drastic increase in possession of marijuana arrests among teens and young adults, and struggling to find a balance between accommodating Michigan's evolving medical marijuana laws and capping recreational use.

Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad said his department has seen an eye-opening number of pot related arrests amongst that particular demographic. 

"Let me suggest that arrests are up about 700 percent this year," he said.

Haddad noted that pot smoking in the Arab American community has become more frequent– but it's trending across all ethnic groups and communities at about the same pace.

"They are equal across the board by race," Haddad said. "Seventy-eight percent of the arrests have been males, while 22 percent of the arrests are female."

Haddad said in order to tackle the epidemic, the police department is strengthening outreach efforts at local schools.

The department now has seven school resource officers on duty full time.

All officers on patrol are also required to make daily stops at the local schools to ensure drug use isn't occurring during and after school hours.

The department is also sharpening programs to educate and bring awareness to the hazards of marijuana and other substances. 

"We are trying to reach our young people in countless ways on a daily basis," Haddad said. "And in more structured ways to make sure that they understand the hazards and, more importantly, make them healthy adults and good ambassadors out in the community. I think that with our community policing model, every member of our department recognizes engaging our community in a civil, respectful way."

In the neighboring city of Dearborn Heights, the problem appears to be just as transparent.

Police Captain Daniel Voltattorni told The AANews that residents can't expect police to monitor and cap recreational marijuana on their own. 

"The issue is, we can have meetings with the community, but we can only provide one part of it," Voltattorni said. "We can be honest and say these are the problems in the community and this is what we are seeing. But the community needs to acknowledge there is a problem and say we need to do something about it."

 

Court ordered rehabilitation

 

Dearborn Judge Sam Salamey told The AANews that the court has to walk the fine line between differentiating when a marijuana user is abusing the substance and when it's being consumed for medical purposes. 

Salamey noted that after medical marijuana was introduced in Michigan, people assume it's justifiable to smoke it because it's socially acceptable.

"Yes, we have seen a surge in usage and to an extent it has been intensified by Michigan's Marijuana medical usage," Salamey said.  "It permits people with diseases to use it for medical purposes. To an extent, it does reduce suffering for some patients who need it. And then there's, of course, a wide range of people who get the card and they abuse the prescription, like any other drug."

Salamey said often times the courts hear excuses from individuals that cannabis is a healthy medicinal alternative. But he noted that it's still against the law to use it recreationally.

"Just because it's socially acceptable, it does not make it legal," Salamey said. "Some taboos and prohibitions are changing. Many states have taken steps to legalize it and people don't feel deterred from usage because it's socially acceptable. The law is the law, and it is illegal to possess and to use marijuana and controlled substances. People will be charged and will deal with the consequences."

Salamey said that the court treats each possession of marijuana misdemeanor charge on a case by case basis. Usually if it's a first or second time offender, the court allows rehabilitation opportunities instead of jail time. Salamey said in most cases, an individual is placed on six to 12 months of probation and is subjected to random drug testing. 

For minors charged with such misdemeanors, Dearborn's court refers  cases to their juvenile court division and requires legal guardian intervention. 

"We try to create some awareness," Salamey said. "In Dearborn we have a juvenile court, and they summon one of the parents to be present and we instruct them and give them the incentive to refrain from further use and enlighten them on what the consequences will be if they continue. Most of the time it's teens that are experimenting with the drug. Ninety-five percent will take the warning and won't use it anymore."

 

Mainstreaming of marijuana

 

The state's evolving medical marijuana laws appears to have blurred the lines between growing and selling marijuana and using it recreationally. 

Just because a resident may have a medical marijuana card, it doesn't mean they can loosely carry cannabis in their vehicles.

Medical marijuana card holders are required to stash their pot in a box and place it in the trunks of their vehicles.

But still, police seem to be arresting people using pot while driving on a daily basis.

In those instances, the arrest is warranted and the driver's medical marijuana card would not hold up in court.

In a new report published by the Metro Times, approximately 20,000 adults in Michigan are being arrested annually for possession of marijuana.

As of 2015, there were 182,000 registered medical marijuana patients in Michigan. That number is expected to increase significantly once the 2016 figures are collected.

Haddad cited another problematic concern with medical marijuana card holders in the state–patients who have a CCW are also able to obtain them.

"They are giving concealed weapon permits and medical marijuana cards to the same people," Haddad said. "But medical marijuana is being obtained at a faster rate. We've put the Mexican marijuana cartel out of business, because home-grown marijuana is much more potent and much more available." 

Dearborn Heights Police Chief Lee Gavin said residents frequently call in to complain about neighbors growing and selling pot, and the department has to be cautious with how it approaches each case.

"We get complaints from residents in the neighborhoods about houses growing and selling marijuana," Gavin said. "It's really difficult nowadays with the medical marijuana cards and the caregivers. You are allowed to grow an X amount of plants. So it's really hard when we get a tip on a house that's growing marijuana."

As of 2015, there were approximately 34,000 registered caregivers in Michigan. That number is also expected to increase with the 2016 figures.

Gavin said it has become a headache for police departments to monitor such cases–citing endless hours of work that go to waste.

"We have to put so much more time into it," he said. "It really puts a burden on the police departments and a lot of time is spent on these investigations."

 

Dispensary owners face obstacles

 

Arab Americans in particular seem to have discovered a booming industry with medical marijuana dispensaries.

In recent years, Arabs have opened dozens of dispensaries in Detroit. Some have met with success, while others have been shut down by the city, which has been attempting to regulate the influx of dispensaries that seem to be popping up at every corner. 

At the beginning of 2016, Detroit introduced a new ordinance that required a special business license for medical marijuana dispensaries and prohibited the shops from operating within 1,000 feet of churches, parks and schools.

The license also requires dispensaries to run background checks, to comply with state law, and to not have drive-through services.

The new laws left many dispensaries in limbo, with dozens shutting their doors within a span of a few months due to compliance issues.

The dispensaries will soon be slapped with more regulations as the state gets ready to implement new measures in 2017.

In September, Governor Snyder signed what he dubbed a "landmark" medical marijuana bill to further regulate dispensaries. The new law includes a 3 percent tax on gross retail receipts at dispensaries. Dispensary purchases would also be subjected to the state's 6 percent sales tax.

The new legislation is expected to generate about $64 million annually from the sales tax and about $21 million from the dispensary tax.

For months, The AANews has attempted to reach out to Arab dispensary owners to get their input about the growing industry, with most rejecting the publicity out of fear of scrutiny from the community.

One Arab American dispensary owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said both the state and the city of Detroit have given him problems with his daily operation. 

But he's not dropping out of the industry anytime soon. In fact, he's expanding and opening up another shop.

He believes there's a lot of potential in the industry, citing a booming economy in states like Colorado– which legalized recreational use and now sees an additional $1 billion annually. 

"What happened there is proof in the pudding," the owner said. "The public demand is there and I think lawmakers need to step aside and let the people speak for themselves."

However, in Michigan, plans to decriminalize pot were met with roadblocks by legislators who threw out a 354,000 signature petition that aimed to put the matter of legalizing marijuana before the voters on the 2016 ballot.

The petition was deemed invalid due to a state rule stating that signatures more than 180 days old were void. There weren't enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot in November.

MI Legalize, the group that organized the signature drive, is now pushing to get the measure on the 2018 ballot. 

Haddad said he doesn't see either recreation or medical use of marijuana stalling anytime soon.

"We have a huge decision to make here in the state and here in the community," he said.  "And I think the odds are stacked pretty deep." 

 

http://www.arabamericannews.com/news/news/id_13354/Police-cite-drastic-increase-in-pot-related-arrests-as-state-scrambles-with-shifting-laws.html

Edited by bobandtorey
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"The issue is, we can have meetings with the community, but we can only provide one part of it," Voltattorni said. "We can be honest and say these are the problems in the community and this is what we are seeing. But the community needs to acknowledge there is a problem and say we need to do something about it."

 

So apparently the community as a whole doesn't see a problem, only law enforcement.

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the more drug arrests they have, the more funding they get...  Plain and simple.

 

But, its Lansing that is causing this.  By restricting and capping what Caregivers can do with their overages, and by the new 4209 which appears to be heading towards getting rid of Caregivers, many people are going back underground.  What happens when growers go underground?  More of it gets to teens and on the street... 

 

It's exactly what the laws they passed would do.  I don't find it odd at all, it's expected.

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It kinda sounds like you are throwing caregivers under the bus. If they can sell overages legally, they will. If they can't sell overages legally, then they sell to teenagers?

 

This isn't the sort of position I would expect from someone who supports individual grow rights. It stinks of cannon fodder from big businesses hoping to crush home grows.

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It kinda sounds like you are throwing caregivers under the bus. If they can sell overages legally, they will. If they can't sell overages legally, then they sell to teenagers?

 

This isn't the sort of position I would expect from someone who supports individual grow rights. It stinks of cannon fodder from big businesses hoping to crush home grows.

What to do to counter that?

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It kinda sounds like you are throwing caregivers under the bus. If they can sell overages legally, they will. If they can't sell overages legally, then they sell to teenagers?

 

This isn't the sort of position I would expect from someone who supports individual grow rights. It stinks of cannon fodder from big businesses hoping to crush home grows.

I said Teenagers because that's what LEO throws out.  It was wrong, what I meant was uncarded people.

 

I think you are taking this wrong HL.  I 100% support individual grow rights.  I also think that 4209 is a horrible bill that will lead to the end of caregivers.  I could be incorrect, and I hope I am.  Honestly I would rather see legal transfer from ANY CG to ANY Patient be legal...  Then I would argue with you that dispensaries are not needed at all.  I'd still support them, but it wouldn't be necessary.  But that isn't the case.

 

So you can ONLY transfer to the 5 patients who call you a PRIMARY caregiver.  Sure they said you don't have to register for section 8, but you can only assist the 5 people linked to you.  Any and all other transfers are illegal.  P2P  CG2CG CG2P if not linked to you is all illegal.

 

So HL, if you are in an area that allows transfers to people who aren't registered to you, awesome, but that isn't the case here. 

 

Yes, 4209 stinks of big business trying to crush home grows.  I don't support it past giving patients more access, but I fear the implementation.

 

I hope I am wrong, but when Schuette is Governor, do you really think he will support the CG system any more?  He lead the opposition in 2008, and has tried to undermine the act ever since it was initiated.  And just look, he is the frontrunner to win in 2018...

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Glad using a court defense is good for you.  For many patients it isn't.

 

And you can ask an attorney, Section 8 is a court defense.  That means you are arrested, all of your stuff if taken under asset forfeiture, arraigned, but you can avoid jail by using it.  Most people aren't willing to roll the dice on that one.

 

Especially since once they confiscate your stuff, it is a long legal battle to get it back.  Read up, Court Defense only for section 8.  Some LEO let it slide, but many don't.

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Glad using a court defense is good for you.  For many patients it isn't.

 

And you can ask an attorney, Section 8 is a court defense.  That means you are arrested, all of your stuff if taken under asset forfeiture, arraigned, but you can avoid jail by using it.  Most people aren't willing to roll the dice on that one.

 

Especially since once they confiscate your stuff, it is a long legal battle to get it back.  Read up, Court Defense only for section 8.  Some LEO let it slide, but many don't.

Understood. But patients who use dispensaries are in the same boat. It appears that most dispensaries make copies of patients' cards....why? Because they want to use the patients as evidence when the feces hit the fan.

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Sure.  But as you argue all the time, dispensaries are illegal.  So if you get to use section 8, and it is totally fine, why can't a dispensary do the same?  What you are saying, is really your methods are illegal just like a dispensary is if they are using Section 8 as a defense.  Since you say they can't do it, then logic dictates that you shouldn't be able to either.  Just you are out of sight so no one notices it.

 

But the patients who want to be 100% legal won't do that anyway.

 

But back to the OP.  I still think 4209 and these reports will be used to take away home grows.  As stated, I hope I am wrong, but when legislators are being told that the seed to sale tracking is working 100%, and that there is a 700% increase in MJ getting out on the street, they will say, no more home grows, we need to track it 100%.  That's why I think they will use this report, and the 4209/4287 to remove caregivers.  And that in my opinion is horrifying.

 

Most don't believe me, but I think all patients should be able to grow if capable.  And those that can't should be able to rely on friends, family and loved ones.

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With an affirmative defense, the defendant admits guilt to committing the crime, but uses an affirmation defense to introduce additional facts or explanation to justify his or her conduct.  Some of the most common affirmative defenses include mental illness, self-defense, entrapment, mistake of fact, intoxication, duress. If defendant successfully offers a justification for his or action or behavior, his legal liability is limited or completely exonerated.

 

Affirmative vs. Negating Defenses

 

An affirmative defense is used to explain or justify the behavior that is alleged to be criminal. But this defense can sometimes be more difficult to prove than a negating defense. A negating defense attacks an essential element of the criminal charge brought by the prosecutor. Because the prosecutor has the initial burden of proving every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, to negate, the defense only has the burden of creating doubt about one or all of the elements.  To do so, the defendent has to produce some actual evidence through eyewitnesses, videos, or other physical proof to support justification.

 

However, the use of an affirmative defense is not about attacking an element of the crime, it is usually about justifying or excusing the criminal action. For example, suppose a defendant is on trial for first degree murder of her husband. To prove a first degree murder charge, the prosecutor must generally offer evidence that the murder was premeditated, that is, the defendant planned the murder beforehand. The prosecutor has plenty of DNA evidence to connect the defendant to the murder of her husband, but  weak or speculative evidence that the defendant actually planned the murder. The defense may use a negating defense in this case, to show that since the prosecution has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant planned to kill her husband, the jury cannot convict the defendant for first degree murder.

 

However, to strengthen the case that the murder was not premeditated, the defense may also introduce additional evidence which shows that the defendant acted in self-defense. This additional evidence may be photos of the defendant after the murder which shows her badly beaten, or witness testimony that someone heard the defendant crying out for help the night of the murder. Self-defense is a commonly used affirmative defense, which justifies a defendant’s unlawful behavior on the basis of protecting oneself. If used successfully, the defendant in this case could be exonerated of the crime altogether.

 

Types of Affirmative Defenses

 

While the availability of an affirmative defense will depend on the state, there are generally two categories of affirmative defenses, justifications and excuses. There is also one affirmative defense that defendants use when they deny the charge altogether, called the alibi defense.

 

Justification defenses say that, though the defendant did the crime, there were very good reasons for doing so. The above example in which the defendant used self-defense as a justification for killing her husband is an example of this type of affirmative defense. Other justification defenses include defense of property, defense of others, law enforcement defense, and necessity.

 

Excuse defenses assert an excuse for committing the crime, even though the defendant admits to committing the crime.  Excuse defenses include insanity, duress, diminished capacity, intoxication, and infancy. For example, a defendant who uses the insanity defense alleges that though he committed the crime, he was unable to know right from wrong as a result of his mental illness, and therefore he could not control his behavior at the time of the crime and should be excused.   Similarily, a defendant who asserts that he committed the crime under duress, is admitting to committing the crime, but because he was forced to commit the crime (i.e., robbing a bank because the wife was hostage if you did not), it was out of his control and should be excused.

 

Finally, an alibi affirmative defense is probably the best affirmative defense because the defendant maintains his complete lack of involvement with the crime. An alibi defense offers evidence that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime when the crime took place. An alibi affirmative defense is most effectively used in conjunction with a negating defense. For instance, if the prosecutor has weak evidence that tends to show that the defendant was at the crime scene, the defense can point this weakness out as a negating defense, and also assert an alibi as an affirmative defense.

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