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Authorities charge owners of medical marijuana dispensaries with crimes

Two men who once owned medical marijuana shops in Michigan have been charged with drug crimes. Law enforcement officials in Kalamazoo County raided the dispensaries earlier this year. A spokesman for the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team said police took "several ounces" of marijuana from each business as well as 10 handguns, four rifles and three shotguns from one of them.

One man was arraigned on a single count of delivery or manufacture of marijuana and another count of maintaining a drug house. The first charge is a felony that could bring a sentence of four years. The second is a misdemeanor that could carry a two-year jail term.

The owner of the second dispensary already has entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor drug possession charge and served one day in jail. He also paid fines and court costs. He had faced the same charges as the other business owner as well as possession of marijuana.

In a news release, officials from the task force said both shops had sold marijuana to customers without being identified as their designated caregiver. That is illegal under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Law, which states that a licensed caregiver can supply as many as five patients with medical marijuana and maintain a dozen marijuana plants for each patient.

One of the men is the president of the Compassion Resource Center of West Michigan, an organization that provides patients with information about medical marijuana. The center also holds yoga classes, provides massage therapy and has a medical doctor for patients to consult with.

It appears the men who face these criminal charges may not have understood the state's medical marijuana laws. If Michigan is going to allow the sale of marijuana for medical purposes, it may need to make clear to owners of dispensaries just what the rules are. In situations like this, consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney is often wise.

Source: MLive.com, "Owners of former Portage medical marijuana dispensaries charged," Emily Monacelli, Nov. 1, 2012

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