Attorney seeks dismissal of charges against marijuana clinic founder

An attorney for Ryan Richmond, who co-owned a medical marijuana clinic and is facing drug charges, wants a judge to dismiss the case due to “selective and vindictive prosecution.”

Prosecutors and the county sheriff deny the allegations.

Richmond was one of the founders of Clinical Relief, a medical marijuana dispensary in Ferndale. Police raided the clinic on Aug. 26, 2010. Richmond and a number of other people were charged with drug offenses and are awaiting an October trial.

In a recently filed motion, defense attorney Neil Rockind said Richmond and his associates got the OK from Ferndale officials to open and operate the facility. The city was actively accepting applications for new medical marijuana businesses in the days before the raid, according to the motion. 

Rockind said in order to gain access to Clinical Relief for the raid, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Narcotics Enforcement Team officers forged medical marijuana cards and swore in signed documentation that they were medical marijuana patients with debilitating conditions, which was not true.

“It is troubling that police had to break the laws in order to obtain a search warrant to a business that had been labeled ‘lawful’ less than a month earlier by the captain of the Ferndale Police Department,” the motion reads.

The motion says law enforcement had other legal options beside raiding the clinic and criminally charging people. It says at the time of the raid, medical marijuana dispensaries were operating with lawful authority in a number of other Michigan counties.

Rockind wrote that the facts in the case reveal a “troubling story, riddled with vindictiveness, selectiveness and general bad faith.”

Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton called the allegations offensive.

“Marijuana is illegal unless you fall in the four squares of the legislative act as defined,” Walton said. “If you don’t, you’re engaged in illegal activity.”

Michigan voters in 2008 approved a ballot proposal that included physician-approved use of marijuana by registered patients with debilitating medical conditions and allowed registered individuals to grow limited amounts of marijuana for patients.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said even before the Clinical Relief case, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office and other officials said dispensaries were illegal, as the state’s Medical Marihuana Act provides that each caregiver can have up to five registered patients.

Bouchard said the type of cards the deputies presented at the clinic is irrelevant.

“Clearly, if someone walks in off the street, they’re not one of the five,” he said.

Last month, the Michigan Court of Appeals released an opinion that said medical marijuana cannot not be sold through private shops or dispensaries.

Bouchard said before Clinical Relief was raided, an Oakland County Sheriff’s captain went to the clinic and warned people that it was against the law.

“They were told if they continued to do things in violation of the law, if we received a complaint, enforcement action would be taken. We did, it was … They were warned and chose not to act on it,” Bouchard said.

Prosecutors plan to ask Oakland Circuit Judge Daniel O’Brien to deny the motion seeking dismissal. A hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 14.

via Oakland Press

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