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Brian Debus

Michigan Sheriffs Using Some MMJ Fee Funds for Dispensary Raids

Fees raised via Michigan’s medical cannabis patients are being used to fund cannabis industry enforcement efforts in Detroit, according to a Detroit News report. Sheriff’s departments have spent more than $600,000 in state grant funding for vehicles, raid gear, and overtime pay for dispensary stakeouts.

The program, which allows county sheriffs to use medical cannabis funds for enforcement, education or communication, was enacted by the legislature two years ago. Critics of the program call it “worse than ironic” that the money gleaned from mandatory caregiver and patient fees is being used to stalk patients at dispensaries and conduct drug raids.

“You can’t give the guys who have been kicking in our doors and taking all of our property with unfettered power — and they still have it — this money,” Charmie Gholson, an activist and founder of Michigan Moms United, said in the report.

Oakland County Sheriffs spent $282,662 on a four-day “indoor marijuana school” for law enforcement agencies; vests; a 2016 Ram ProMaster cargo van and a 2016 GMC 2500 HD pickup for transporting seized plants; and overtime pay.

Wayne County Sheriffs spent $275,195 on eight Tazers, body cameras and enforcement personnel for “street level investigations” of medical cannabis, according to the report. Macomb County Sheriffs spent $60,329, also on investigations.

Cannabis registry fees generated $7.1 million in fiscal year 2015. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs spent $3.2 million on administering the program, and the fund has about $30 million. LARA was recently appropriated $8.5 million from the fund by the legislature to implement a new regulatory framework next year.

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