“There’s no access:” Medical marijuana patients without caregivers, dispensary shutdown

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MUSKEGON, Mich. – A West Michigan medical marijuana dispensary was raided, but the owner says he thought he was doing things by the book.

Since voters passed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, many card-carrying patients and caregivers claim to be wrongfully raided because they believe they are protected under the law. State police data shows that between 2008 and 2014, arrests for marijuana went up 17 percent. Just last year alone, there were more than 20,400 arrests for using marijuana.

Why are some dispensaries raided and others left untouched?

FOX 17 met Thursday with Paul Miller, a card-carrying caregiver, his Muskegon dispensary, which has been shut down. He says that his grow and curing process creates medical-quality marijuana.

“In my mind, just looking at the law, I felt I was just helping customers, helping patients,” said Miller.

In May 2011, Miller opened the Muskegon Medical Marijuana Dispensary, because, as a patient himself, he couldn’t find affordable, medical grade marijuana. He said Michigan badly needs access to caregivers.

“There’s no access,” said Miller. “You have 136,000 patients, you have 24,000 caregivers."

Miller says that for him quality is king. When he was in business, patients were calling from across the state, he says.

“It’s difficult for any patient,” said Miller. "There are still patients out there today, I’ll guarantee you, that have nowhere to turn, nobody to call, and no way to get medical marijuana."

Last April, West Michigan Enforcement Team officers showed up with a warrant and then raided and shut down his dispensary.

Miller says the police took him for all he is worth.

Court documents show April 17, 2015, officers seized $16,479 from the dispensary’s safe plus 156.6 pounds of medibles, 184.1 grams of Butane Hash Oil, 52.7 grams of ground marijuana, and 6.6 pounds of usable marijuana. Miller also said law enforcement emptied $25,000 his business bank account the next day ad charged him with a 15-year felony for growing and delivery of 45 kilos of marijuana.

But there’s a problem with the math here: Miller said cops weighed his edibles as whole marijuana, not just the labeled THC that were in them.

“That’s the whole thing: the state’s just creating criminals almost as fast as they can pump them out of jail,” said Miller. “It’s really sad. The people that pay the price are the actual patients.”

Miller told FOX 17 he wanted to fight the charge through to a jury trial, but the high legal costs on top of what was seized forced him to take a plea deal earlier this week.

“When it comes down to it, you can only hold out until you’re broke and you can’t eat,” said Miller.

“So now we’re looking at 18 months probation, which I have to pay $30 per month to the city and then, of course, $650 in court costs. So you’re looking at another grand to Muskegon, including the $29,000 the state police stuck in their pocket.”

When it comes to the pending medical marijuana legislation, with police wanting to phase out the caregiver, Miller said he doesn’t buy it.

“I really feel it's bad to limit and have a certain amount of commercial grows the only people it's good for is the state and the people with money who can afford to pay the licensing,” said Miller.

If you face marijuana charges that you believe are wrong, email Dana Chicklas at FOX 17.

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22 comments

  • Snowman49444

    Edibles are illegal, the amount of thc doesn’t matter. Also Paul failed to mention roughly 30days before he got busted a sherif went around to all dispensarys in Muskegon and told them to remove edibles because of Michigan Supreme Court ruling. And he was over his 15oz caregiver amount. Oh almost forgot dispensarys are illegal right now! Paul knew that as he was in contact with mutual friends

  • Paul K.

    I find it very hard to take people seriously when they claim that they don’t have access to marijuana.
    Look, why should you expect to be able to rely on the government to provide you with medicine when they can’t even provide you with functional representation? If they can simply disregard the legally held vote of the people, then they are no longer a legitimate government according to the Constitution. The people have voted, and our elected representatives, from the local police chief all the way up to the governor, are REFUSING to implement the will of the people of the state of Michigan. They are not just violating the oath of their offices, but they are themselves acting illegally by not enacting legislation voted in by the people and by not defending the people of this state from wrongful breaches of our autonomy by federal agencies. And you think these people are going to be dependable sources of marijuana for you???
    Do this:
    1) Mail your MM card to the governor. Let him know that you are a voter and that he should start packing his bags.
    2) Get your pot on the street like everyone else. No need to involve the government, the insurance companies, or the lawyers.
    3) Do not ever vote for anyone who is not on record as saying that they will fight for whatever the people vote for, even if they don’t agree with it. That is their job…it isn’t to do what they think is best, it isn’t to do what they think is right, it is to do what the people tell them to do. Period.

  • NO PC FOR ME

    “When it comes to dispensaries, why are some raided and others untouched?”
    Duh…you forgot to pay off the necessary official.
    Follow the money.

  • NO PC FOR ME

    Guess where the “confiscated” cash went? ( forfeiture laws)
    Remember ” The bigger the bust, the bigger the boost” – sargent stadanko

  • Common Cents

    Wow, I feel safer. Good thing the police used tax dollars to stop those cancer patients and people with epilepsy from getting their medicine.

    This is why I cheer every time a cop dies.

  • Sue

    I did the freedom of information request asking the Michigan State police the name of the insurance company that insures W EM ET. Had he filed an insurance claim of his losses Immediately before going to court it would’ve started in internal Inbestigation against all the officers. Why do people jump into businesses with their eyes closed. Everybody knows you don’t bring edibles into dispensaries on this side of the state. I called them Benjamin chasers. They just can’t say no to all that money. No food no concentrates no clones no plants no guns no grows. Those are all DEA territory right now. Bud only..

  • Mike

    They are circumventing the will of the people and what we the people voted in. They are rushing legislation through as they know the people want Legal Marijuana with no government ties as everything the government touches goes corrupt. Bill Schuity can’t stand the will of the people vs his ties to big Pharma. Sadly we don’t get news coverage of the real stories behind what they are trying to do. They will just recreate a massive black market again. The biggest losers are the patients and NOT one news organization is going to review this matter.

  • Robert Therrien

    First, he’s over charging patients.
    next, His claims that he did not know is a lie as any fourth grade student can read and understand that Michigan’s medical marijuana law allows a caregiver to have 12 plants per patient and a maximum of 5 patients.
    Next, 136,000 patients with 24,000 caregivers equals out to 5.6 patients per caregiver. He just like many others did not want to pay the fee’s that are charged for being a caregiver. Growing marijuana for a patient is a privilege and should ONLY cover the actual cost of growing the marijuana. That cost is about $30 per ounce after initial set up. I know as my wife is my caretaker and I pay for the electricity, fertilizer, and new light bulbs when they burn out.
    The seizing of some $41,000 plus the amount of oil, ground Marijuana, and another 6.6 po8nds of usable Marijuana only tells me this guy saw dollar signs and decided to ignore the medical marijuana law Michigan ahs put in place for those who actually need the option of using marijuana. I’ll say it again for the illiterate out there, There are NO dispensaries allowed under both federal and Michigan Medical Marijuana laws. Keep writing your State representative and state Senator to change our law to allow recreational marijuana with NO taxation, fee’s, the right to grow, keep as much on hand as you believe you need for your use, and to use in any way you deem fit as long as you are over the age of 21. I myself DO NOT want sales of Marijuana as that just leads to trouble, more government rules, taxation, turf wars, robbery and death.

  • William Clark

    Appalling. And I’ve read news stories of entrapment, coercion, and departmental greed, under color of antiquated, unconstitutional State forfeiture laws. Policing for profit, a pose of being ‘tough on crime’, instead of pursuing real crimes against real victims. And don’t look to the Attorney General for relief; he wants to run for Governor under these same dark flags.

    I favor the MILegalize petition. Please visit its website and contribute to its campaign fund.

    Michigan is a Right to Farm State. If your land is suitable and you raise crops according to State standards, you may compete in the State’s open market. I’d say legalize marijuana but don’t corporatize it. Never interfere with patients’ rights to grow their own. And tell the police to take a hike. They are addicted to profiting from Michigan’s antiquated, unconstitutional forfeiture law. Their reps have repeatedly hijacked lawmakers’ votes to fine-tune the MMMA, by showing up ‘en masse’ and playing ‘tough cop’ in legislators’ offices just before a vote.

    “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting people to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, break up their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” –John Erlichman

    Prohibition of marijuana is a premise built on a tissue of lies: Concern For Public Safety. Our new laws save hundreds of lives every year, on our highways alone. In November of 2011 a study at the University of Colorado found that, in the thirteen states that decriminalized marijuana between 1990 and 2009, traffic fatalities have dropped by nearly nine percent—now nearly ten percent in Michigan—more than the national average, while sales of beer went flat by five percent. No wonder Big Alcohol opposes it. Ambitious, unprincipled, profit-driven undertakers might be tempted too.

    In 2012 a study released by 4AutoinsuranceQuote revealed that marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users, as “the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving”, which “is arguably a positive thing”. Despite occasional accidents, eagerly reported by police-blotter ‘journalists’ as ‘marijuana-related’, a mix of substances was often involved. Alcohol, most likely, and/or prescription drugs, nicotine, caffeine, meth, cocaine, heroin, and a trace of the marijuana passed at a party ten days ago. However, on the whole, as revealed in big-time, insurance-industry stats, within the broad swath of mature, experienced consumers, slower and more cautious driving shows up in significant numbers. Legalization should improve those numbers further.

    No one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. It’s the most benign ‘substance’ in history. Most people—and particularly patients who medicate with marijuana–use it in place of prescription drugs or alcohol.

    Marijuana has many benefits, most of which are under-reported or never mentioned in American newspapers. Research at the University of Saskatchewan indicates that, unlike alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or Nancy (“Just say, ‘No!’”) Reagan’s beloved nicotine, marijuana is a neuro-protectant that actually encourages brain-cell growth. Research in Spain (the Guzman study) and other countries has discovered that it also has tumor-shrinking, anti-carcinogenic properties. These were confirmed by the 30-year Tashkin population study at UCLA.

    Drugs are man-made, cooked up in labs, for the sake of patents and the profits gained by them. Often useful, but typically burdened with cautionary notes and lists of side effects as long as one’s arm. ‘The works of Man are flawed.’

    Marijuana is a medicinal herb, the most benign and versatile in history. “Cannabis” in Latin, and “kanah bosm” in the old Hebrew scrolls, quite literally the Biblical Tree of Life, used by early Christians to treat everything from skin diseases to deep pain and despair. Why despair? Consider the current medical term for cannabis sativa: a “mood elevator”. . . as opposed to antidepressants, which ‘flatten out’ emotions, leaving patients numb to both depression and joy.

    The very name, “Christ” translates as “the anointed one”. Well then, anointed with what? It’s a fair question. And it wasn’t holy water, friends. Holy water came into wide use in the Middle Ages. In Biblical times it was used by a few tribes of Greek pagans. But Christ was neither Greek nor pagan.

    Medicinal oil, for the Prince of Peace. A formula from the Biblical era has been rediscovered. It specifies a strong dose of oil from kanah bosom, ‘the fragrant cane’ of a dozen uses: ink, paper, rope, nutrition. . . . It was clothing on their backs and incense in their temples. And a ‘skinful’ of medicinal oil could certainly calm one’s nerves, imparting a sense of benevolence and connection with all living things. No wonder that the ‘anointed one’ could gain a spark, an insight, a sense of the divine, and the confidence to convey those feelings to friends and neighbors.

    I am shocked at the number of ‘Christian’ politicians, prosecutors, and police who pose on church steps or kneeling in prayer on their campaign trails, but cannot or will not face the scientific or the historical truths about cannabis, Medicinal Herb Number One, safe and effective for thousands of years, and celebrated as sacraments by most of the world’s major religions.

  • Brian Prewett

    When City Ordinances overwrite State Regulations that overwrite Federal Laws, it becomes time for The Will of the People to overwrite Federal Authority.

    Hang a sign that states, “Responsible Cannabis use is legal on this property.”