NRPC in the News — Items seized in Ferndale Medical Marijuana bust must be returned

Ferndale — A judge ordered Oakland County prosecutors to provide copies of seized patient files and ID cards and to return computer hard drives and other items to two defendants charged in Oakland County’s largest raid on medical marijuana facilities.

Attorneys for Nicholas Agro, 38, of Lake Orion and Ryan Richmond, 33, of Royal Oak, both investors with Clinical Relief, a Ferndale medical marijuana dispensary, argued Thursday for the return of the items taken by narcotics officers with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

Officers raided the business, another dispensary in Waterford Township and multiple homes Aug. 25.

Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Beth Hand and attorneys Amy Bowen-Krane and Neil Rockind worked out an agreement Thursday to make photocopies of some of the items and to return others.

Agro is also a medical marijuana patient and caregiver licensed by the state of Colorado.

Bowen-Krane said police seized records for four patients Agro was treating. The records are protected by state privacy laws, she said.

Neil Rockind said police seized items from Richmond’s home that had nothing to do with operations at Clinical Relief. Richmond is in commercial real estate, he said.

“The Sheriff’s Department seized a laptop computer, carrying cases, some paperwork and rental property keys that my client wants back entirely,” Rockind said. “He has other business and personal interests. His laptop computer contains information he needs to live his life while this case is going on.”

Prosecutors and attorneys will be back Nov. 3 for a preliminary examination in the case, which involves nine defendants, most of whom are charged with illegally growing and selling marijuana or conspiring to do so.

The raids resulted in 16 arrests and the seizure of marijuana, medical records and cash. In both cases, police allege employees illegally grew and sold marijuana in the facility, including drug sales outside the clinic.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper and Sheriff Michael Bouchard claim dispensaries are illegal operations and are not protected under the state’s medical marijuana law.

Bouchard likened the businesses to “organized crime” rather than compassionate care for the chronically ill. NET officers said they were able to buy the herb without proper identification and also witnessed open sales and exchanges between unlicensed people.

Attorneys for the defendants claim their clients are protected by the state’s Medical Marijuana Act.

Via The Detroit News

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