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Police raid medical marijuana dispensaries

By Adam Rubenfire, Daily Staff Reporter
Published August 25, 2011

Four days after a state appellate court ruled the illegality of the sale of medical marijuana through dispensaries, a regional taskforce raided two Ann Arbor-based medical marijuana dispensaries Thursday morning.

MedMAR Pharmaceuticals Inc. — located at 1818 Packard Street — and A2 Go Green Corp., which is located at 206 Main Street, were raided by Michigan State Police’s Livingston and Washtenaw Narcotics Enforcement Team.

LAWNET Lt. Jerry Cooley confirmed that officials conducted searches at two dispensaries in the Ann Arbor area Thursday morning between 10 and 11 a.m. He said that while there were three arrests made at MedMAR, the raid had nothing to do with Monday’s court ruling.

“These were previous investigations that were going on for weeks,” Cooley said.

Chuck Ream, owner of MedMAR, said the raid was unsettling particularly because the three people arrested by LAWNET were his employees.

“They’ve come into our dispensary … and taken — stolen — all of our medicine, all of our records,” Ream said.

He added that MedMAR was in the process of preparing its application to become a licensed medical marijuana dispensary in the city of Ann Arbor, following the ordinance passed on June 20 by Ann Arbor City Council legalizing the sale of medical marijuana in the city.

“It was Monday — just Monday — that we picked up our official city application to become a licensed dispensary,” Ream said.

Ream said that by ruling the sale of medical marijuana in the city as illegal, state officials are not following the wishes of Ann Arbor voters.

“The voters of this city have made it very clear — 74 percent at the local level, and then 79 percent at the state level for the state law — that they want medical marijuana distributed,” Ream said. “Today is the first day that the state and federal police have come in and shown that they have absolutely no respect for what the voters in Ann Arbor think.”

Ream added he’s concerned about the effect the raids and the appeals court ruling will have on the livelihoods of people who work in Michigan’s Medical Marijuana industry.

“I think after today, most people, most dispensaries are closing,” Ream said. “And all of that investment is lost, all of those people will lose their jobs, and their families will not have a livelihood anymore.”

A2 Go Green Corp. could not be reached by phone as of Thursday evening.

The ruling made Monday is a victory for the Isabella County Prosecutor's office, which filed the case in hopes of shutting down the Compassionate Apothecary — a medical marijuana dispensary in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan that has been called a “public nuisance” under state health code.

The three-judge panel ruled that Michigan Medical Marijuana Act makes legal the use of medical marijuana but does not permit its sale, specifically noting the “patient-to-patient” sales system common in many dispensaries is not legal under the act.

Matthew Abel, an Attorney at the Detroit-based law firm Cannabis Counsel — which represents several dispensaries in the state of Michigan — said he and his clients who own dispensaries are concerned about the appeals court ruling.

“We’ll have to see how it shapes up,” Abel said. “It has the potential to shutter every dispensary in the state.”

Attorney General Bill Schuette — who supported the Isabella County Prosecutor in his case against Compassionate Apothecary — released a statement Wednesday that said his office will be sending letters to Michigan’s 83 prosecutors explaining that the ruling allows them to close dispensaries and provides them with information on how to file nuisance actions similar to the case in Mt. Pleasant.