Police Used Fake ID Cards to Buy Medical Marijuana

We at NRPC knew that there would eventually be a day that the media would pick up on the fact that the medical marijuana dispensaries in Ferndale and Waterford (those that are the target of current criminal charges) only dispensed medicinal marijuana to those with ID cards.

That day has come.

Check out the below article that is featured on the front page of the Detroit Free Press:

Cops used fake patient IDs to buy medical pot; Was it entrapment?

Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies used phony Michigan medical-marijuana cards — created on a county computer — to trick state-approved medical marijuana providers into selling the drug to the cops, according to documents obtained by the Free Press from defense attorneys.

Days after the drug buys, county narcotics agents raided two medical-marijuana dispensaries Aug. 25 in Ferndale and Waterford.

“These officers were denied entrance on several occasions because of improper paperwork, but when they appeared with these cards, I had no way to check,” said Brian Vaughan, a doorman at the now closed Everybody’s Café dispensary in Waterford, who is charged with multiple drug violations.

“You’ve got law enforcement spending time and money to entrap users of medical marijuana,” Southfield attorney Michael Komorn said Tuesday.

But law-enforcement officials said Tuesday the phony patient ID cards were a legitimate way to get evidence.

“Regardless of whether the cards were real or not, the pure and simple fact is, dispensaries are not legal in Michigan,” Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe said.

Whether the fake cards constitute entrapment and whether dispensaries are legal will be decided by judges in cases expected to land in state appeals courts, as both sides predict that the raids could lead to landmark decisions that interpret the murky Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

Raids Could Settle State Pot Law

Oakland County authorities said that when their undercover officers used forged medical-marijuana identification cards — near duplicates of those issued to more than 41,000 Michiganders — it was a perfectly legitimate way to bust those selling medical marijuana who abused the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

But defense attorneys for more than two dozen medical-marijuana patients arrested in the Aug. 25 raids of medical-marijuana establishments in Ferndale and Waterford are crying foul, saying their clients were trapped into lawbreaking while trying to stay within the state law.

Both sides say the cases — stemming from raids of Everybody’s Café, a social club for patients in Waterford, and of the Clinical Relief storefront dispensary in Ferndale — are sure to land in state appeals courts and likely to decide whether dispensaries, commercial outlets for selling the drug to patients, are legal in Michigan.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said Tuesday that using the fake ID cards “wasn’t entrapment (because) entrapment is a legal defense that applies only in cases where someone is lured into committing an illegal act.

“They weren’t lured, but instead were “so far outside the act (it’s) absurd,” Cooper said. She cited evidence of “hand-to-hand buys of copious amounts of drugs.”

And a state-approved caregiver, which many of the establishments’ employees claim to be, can provide medical marijuana only to his or her five registered patients, “regardless of whether the cards were real or not,” Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe said.

“Obviously, none of these officers (with the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team) were their patients,” McCabe said Wednesday.

But officials with the Michigan Department of Community Health, the agency charged by the state Legislature with implementing the state law allowing medical marijuana, said many parts of the law are unclear to their department’s attorneys.

“There’s nothing in the act that addresses the change process if a patient wants to add a caregiver or remove a caregiver,” and whether dispensaries are illegal “is nothing that we have any opinion on,” Celeste Clarkson, manager of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Registry Program, said Tuesday.

Prosecutor Cooper and McCabe’s boss, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, have said they’re on a crusade — supported by County Executive L. Brooks Patterson — to show that medical marijuana dispensaries and related establishments are illegal in Michigan.

“They’re using people like us as victims in this and they’re destroying our businesses and our lives,” William Teichman, 50, of Waterford said.

Teichman, a Chrysler engineer; his wife, Candi Teichman, and more than two dozen other Oakland County residents have been charged with multiple counts of illegal drug delivery, based on the alleged sales of medical marijuana to undercover officers at establishments including the Teichmans’ former restaurant, Everybody’s Café. The restaurant, now shuttered, used to close each day at 4 p.m. and operate as a compassion club for medical marijuana users, their attorney Jeffrey Perlman of Southfield said.

“Bill and Candi were giving people a place to use their medical marijuana, mostly by eating it, not smoking it, so they wouldn’t have to do it at home in front of children or out on the streets,” Perlman said.

“Nobody was allowed in without a document from the state showing they were a certified patient. And so, everyone in the café was legal except these officers” who used phony state ID cards, Perlman said Tuesday.

The case constitutes entrapment because “the people in the café who were caregivers would never have sold to someone who was illegal,” Perlman said.

The cases could take years to be settled by the state’s highest courts, or be resolved far more quickly by a Republican landslide in November if Lansing lawmakers subsequently repealed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which was passed in 2008.

via Detroit Free Press

Colin A. Daniels

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