Michigan: Items Seized In Marijuana Bust Must Be Returned


Photo: Michael P. McConnell/Oakland County Daily Tribune
Barbara Agro, office manager at the Clinical Relief medical marijuana dispensary in Ferndale, Michigan, talks on her cell phone outside the clinic on August 26, the day after police raided the facility and confiscated patient records, TVs, computers, a small amount of marijuana and even the business’s telephones.

​A judge has 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 the county’s largest-ever raid on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Attorneys representing the owners of Ferndale medical marijuana dispensary Clinical Relief, Nicholas Agro, 38, of Lake Orion, Mich., and Ryan Richmond, 33, of Royal Oak, Mich., argued Thursday for the return of the items, which were taken by narcotics officers with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
Officers raided the business, along with another dispensary in Waterford Township and multiple homes on August 25, reports Jennifer Chambers of The Detroit News.

Graphic: Clinical Relief

​Thursday’s agreement, under which photocopies will be made of some items and others will be returned, was worked out by Assistant Prosecutor Beth Hand and attorneys Amy Bowen-Krane and Neil Rockind.
Agro, also a medical marijuana patient and caregiver licensed by the state of Colorado, was treating four patients whose records were seized by police, according to Bowen-Krane. The records are protected by state privacy laws, Bowen-Krane said.

Photo: Attorneys Dig
Attorney Neil Rockind: “The Sheriff’s Department seized a laptop computer, carrying cases, some paperwork and rental property keys that my client wants back entirely”

​Police seized items from Richmond’s home that had nothing to do with the operations of Clinical Relief, according to Rockind. Richmond works in commercial real estate, Rockind 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 on November 3 for a preliminary examination in the case, in which nine defendants are charged, most for growing and selling marijuana, or conspiring to do so.
Sixteen arrests resulted from the August raids, along with the law enforcement seizure of marijuana, medical records and cash.
In both cases, police claim employees illegally grew and sold marijuana in the business, including sales outside the dispensary.
Taking a hardline position, Prosecutor Jessica Cooper and Sheriff Michael Bouchard claim dispensaries are illegal operations and are not protected under Michigan’s medical marijuana law. Sheriff Bouchard compared the shops to “organized crime” rather than compassionate care for the chronically ill.
Narcotics Enforcement Team officers claimed they were able to buy cannabis without proper identification (which in cop speak, often — ok, usually — means they forged their patient papers).
They also claimed they were able to witness “open sales and exchanges” between “unlicensed people.” Which could well mean they stood around handing one bag back and forth to each other. Who knows with these guys.
Attorneys for the dispensary operators said that their clients are protected by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.