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What can happen, even to a careful Michigan marijuana dispensary

Last week, we discussed the state of Michigan’s medical marijuana system, and how dispensary businesses often find themselves in a confusing legal position. Besides ambiguities in whether it is legal to provide medical marijuana to patients, contradictions in the law can also lead Michiganders into inadvertent legal trouble.

As we discussed in our March 28 post, Michigan’s medical marijuana law does not allow people to dispense marijuana except in small amounts, but different law enforcement agencies seem to be enforcing the law in different ways, creating a great deal of confusion.

Confusion and entrapment led to a raid of against a Michigan couple’s home in 2014, after which they were charged with a range of drug crimes. Fortunately, a judge has dismissed the charges, but not until the couple spent 19 months fighting for their name, and had their “every belonging” seized by the government, according to the Portland Press Herald.

When they opened their dispensary in 2014, the couple was very careful to make sure they were in compliance with the law. They obtained all the necessary permits and licenses from their local planning commission. They shared details of their business plan, like their signage, security measures and business hours, with the commission.

They even invited the county sheriff’s drug task force inspect the property to verify that everything they were doing was legal. But instead of doing the inspection, agents conducted a series of undercover “controlled buys” from the dispensary, using these purchases to obtain a search warrant and leading to the raid.

In the end, a Michigan Circuit Court judge threw out all the charges, saying the sheriff’s department committed “entrapment by estoppels.” This is a form of police entrapment, where the defendant was led to believe by a government official that their conduct was legal, only to be arrested for that conduct later.

With Michigan’s medical marijuana in flux, it is vital that anybody operating a dispensary have solid legal assistance if they ever get charged with a crime.

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