Pubdate: Thu, 27 Jun 2013
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)
Copyright: 2013 Battle Creek Enquirer
Author: Trace Christenson


SPRINGFIELD - Police with search warrants raided three medical
marijuana dispensaries in Springfield Wednesday, alleging they were
violating Michigan law.

About 10:45 a.m. Michigan State Police troopers and undercover drug
officers drove into the parking lot of The Karmacy at 4549 W. Dickman
Road. At the same time officers went to the Southwest Compassion Care
Center at 700 N. 20th St., and Happy Daze at 695 N. 20th St., both in

Officers left the two centers on 20th Street by mid-afternoon but were
still at The Karmacy late in the day.

Officers also went to a home in Kalamazoo County and one in Barry
County where owners or managers of The Karmacy lived, according to
Detective Lt. Wayne Edington of the Michigan State Police Southwest
Enforcement Team, an undercover drug unit. He said troopers along with
undercover officers from units in Jackson and Allegan and from the
department's computer crimes unit assisted in the raids.

Officers had a sixth search warrant for the offices of the City of
Springfield and Edington said they were seeking documents about the
licenses and financial records issued and kept by the city for all
three businesses.

City Manager Frank Peterson said the city complied with the search
warrant and turned over copies of the records.

Edington said the raids were part of an investigation begun late in
2012 because "all three were operating outside the scope of the
medical marijuana law." He said search warrants were obtained through
the Calhoun County Prosecutor, David Gilbert.

Edinton said investigators believe the businesses were violating the
law because the exchange of marijuana was not between properly
documented care givers and a properly documented patient.

All three of the businesses were targeted because they were told by
Gilbert weeks ago that they were not complying with the law.

"They said they were here and they were told to cease by Mr. Gilbert,"
Edington said. "We didn't have to find them. They were clearly there."

Both Gilbert and his Chief Assistant, Matt Smith, stopped at all three
of the businesses after officers executed the search warrants.

Smith said later that troopers found a large marijuana growing
operation inside the Karmacy and several people smoking marijuana in a
room at Happy Daze. Troopers used fans to clear that business of smoke
before beginning their search.

Investigators have alleged that undercover officers were able to
purchase marijuana at the businesses, but an attorney for The Karmacy
said that is impossible.

"We would welcome undercover officers to come in," said attorney Bruce
Leach of Grand Blanc. "They would see that they were operating the way
they were supposed to. The officer would be required to be a member
and obtain medicine from his care giver."

Leach argued that The Karmacy is following the law and has changed
operations to comply with changing interpretations of Michigan's
medical marijuana statute.

"The prosecutor doesn't believe they are complying with the law but we
are confident in our defense. They did not break the law. And if he
wants to test the waters he will find out."

Leach said the amounts of marijuana kept by the business and the
methods of distribution are done correctly.

He said no one was arrested Wednesday "but of course they are going to
charge them. They are the most professional and well-run in the state.
Any charges should be dismissed."

Edington said late Wednesday he had not compiled information from
several teams of officers about what was seized and said he didn't
know if anyone was arrested.

At the Southwest Compassion Care Center, co-owner Michael Cain of
Battle Creek said "we got raided. They came in and robbed us and took
all of our money and all of our stuff. They just looted us."

Cain, who said he has operated the business two years with partner
Matt McMurtrie of Battle Creek, said "Police said they had made a buy.
But everyone who comes in has a card."

Cain said they have a license from Springfield and have complied with
the state law and the city ordinance.

He said using a dispensary is the best way for patients to obtain
their marijuana.

"It is safer to come to a retail place," he said. "It's for people who
can't grow it a home."

A customer of the business, Bill Sowers, 57, of Sturgis, arrived after
the raid and after Cain closed the business.

Sowers said he obtained a medical marijuana card three years ago to
help deal with pain from a broken back he sustained in the military.
He said he smoked marijuana for years to help the pain and had been
coming to the business about once a week for a year.

"What is it about?" he asked from his car. "Why did they close it?
These guys have helped me a lot."
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