Unclear State Marijuana Law leads to Federal Raid

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email
The clash between state and federal law is in full view.  Federal narcotics agents continue to investigate a medical marijuana growing operation in Okemos.

Bundles of marijuana confiscated by police

The clash between state and federal law is in full view. Federal agents are investigating an Okemos property where 2 medical marijuana care givers grew 40 marijuana plants. A practice they believe is legal.

"No Michigan state laws were broken. If these agents would have just called us and said please shut down, we don't believe this is right. We would have done it in a heartbeat," said Ryan Basore, the owner of Capital City Care Givers.

Basore subleased the property to the caregivers who each have the maximum of five patients. As patients themselves, they should be allowed to grow 72 plants each, or theoretically 144 plants in total, according to Michigan medical marijuana law. A law that is full of holes.

"There's issues about how many can get together, and if they could grow beyond 72 plants. That's one question that is still unanswered," said Eaton County prosecutor Jeffrey Sauter.

Federal Agents broke windows and threw smoke bombs into the warehouse on Jolly Oak Road Tuesday night. They confiscated thousands of dollars in equipment and 40 plants more than 6 ft. tall. After the raid, a couple caregivers were confused by federal agents' comments.

"They said this is Michigan. This isn't California. It's different here," said Basore.

Baysore says he spoke with city officials, the meridian sheriff's dept, and a few lawyers before anyone started growing. He says they even wanted authorities to take a look at their efforts to make sure everything was legal.

"We were transparent the whole time. We didn't hide anything. We wanted the police to tour the faility," said Basore.

Despite their invitation, no officials came by until Tuesday. Now patients, caregivers, police and prosecutors are unsure how the grey areas of this law will be interpretted.

"The law has more questions raised than answers," said prosecuting attorney Sauter.

Sauter says the U.S. attorney general has told federal law enforcement not to pursue federal law regarding marijuana in a state that has established its own medical marijuana laws. Instead federal agents, in most cases, work with state officials and follow local or state prosecution.

The Michigan marijuana law was passed in a vote by the people in 2008 and not by the state legislature, leaving many unclear or empty clauses. The DEA declines any comment but says a search warrant was served and the investigation is ongoing.


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