Police raid dispensary
Business halted at county's lone dispensary in Dryden
September 08, 2010DRYDEN — An attorney representing the Compassionate Care Center of Michigan says he's perplexed by the recent actions taken by Lapeer County Sheriff Ron Kalanquin's office and other Detroit-area sheriffs.
Compassionate Care Center of Michigan has been operating downtown since April. Since then, the dispensary has been the topic of numerous news stories and municipality debates as Dryden and surrounding communities struggle with the implications of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act approved by a majority of voters in 2008.
Jim Rasor says Tuesday's raid on the medical marijuana dispensary Dryden mimics a similar crackdown at a pair of dispensaries in Oakland County, ordered two weeks ago by Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
He believes the raids reflect an ongoing frustration in the law enforcement community; one that has been festering since the new law was passed in 2008.
"Michigan sheriffs and prosecutors were deadset against this long before it got on the ballot," Rasor says. "When it passed, they were surprised. They're not happy and they're trying to find ways to get around it.
"The trouble is they are subverting the democratic process," he says. "They are not respecting what the people of Michigan voted for.
"At the same time," Rasor says, "they're depriving some very sick patients of doctor-prescribed medication."
That's not true, says Lapeer County Sheriff Ron Kalanquin, who on Wednesday provided a copy of a search warrant detailing the department's probable cause for entering the dispensary and seizing marijuana, cash, edible items and records.
Kalanquin says the sheriff's department is not interested in "harrassing sick people," and executed the search warrant based on evidence that the dispensary was operating outside of the law. No arrests were made.
The timing on the heels of the August 26 raids in Oakland County is coincidental, says sheriff Lt. Gary Parks, who sought the warrant on August 30.
"It's a workload thing," Parks says. "And it was recently brought to my attention through underground sources. I'm dealing with dopers all the time and they start talking about it and they brought it to my attention."
He says he sought the warrant once he took a look at the situation. Parks says the law is clear, that a "caregiver" is limited in the amount of marijuana he or she is allowed to dispense and recoup a minimal amount of costs for their efforts.
"The issue is he (dispensary co-owner Randy Crowel) set up a business in downtown Dryden and what they're doing is illegal," Parks says. "This is a case where he was sticking his chin out and we were just supposed to turn our heads so he could carry on with business."
Among the facts establishing probable cause for the warrant are names of three persons who had medical marijuana cards without caregivers listed who said they purchased marijuana at the dispensary. A sergeant from the sheriff's office attempted to purchase marijuana from the dispensary with a backdated application and while there observed "6 to 8 people in line to purchase marijuana" is also cited, as are observations from Dryden Twp. police.
The evidence, Kalanquin says, was not derived from a "sting."
"Sting carries negative connotations," the sheriff says.
"He (the sergeant) is a detective sergeant of the sheriff's office, which is not pro prosecutor or pro defendant," Kalanquin says. "Evidence that tends to exonerate the accused is the best kind of evidence as far as I'm concerned. We are there as a fact finder."
Rasor predicts financial consequences for economically-strapped counties whose law enforcement officials choose to challenge the medical marijuana law.
"These sheriffs are going to wind up costing their counties a lot of money, because they're going to get sued," Rasor predicts. "If they want to challenge the law, they should take civil action and allow the judges to rule in the matter. Instead, they've decided to disrupt people's lives."
Meanwhile, Rasor and Crowel are contemplating their legal options.
"I believe the search and seizure was unlawful," Rasor says. "We plan to file a motion seeking the return of all items taken in the raid."
On Tuesday, Sept. 7, Crowel said the Dryden Compassion Center at 5493 Main Street was open and back in the business of dispensing legal marijuana.
"We'll have product here and will be dispensing again as of today," said Crowel.
In the August 31 raid, police seized as evidence 34.43 ounces of processed marijuana, 49 marijuana plants, 34 of which were in a bag and 25 in Crowel's office, receipts and $3,699 in cash.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.