Tony Webster

Two Counties Use 67% of Michigan’s MMJ Enforcement Funds

Law enforcement officials in Michigan are using funds dedicated to medical cannabis enforcement for Tasers, vests, guns, vehicles, and overtime — but just 18 of the state’s 83 counties have applied for their piece of the $3 million, the Associated Press reports, with many saying they were unaware that the program existed.

Wayne and Oakland counties spent 67 percent of the $823,000 utilized in 2016. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office spent $282,661, much of that being used for training and investigation overtime. The office also purchased a $30,000 pickup truck, a $30,000 van and a $6,800 cargo van, which Sheriff Mike Bouchard said are used to transport cannabis seized at illegal medical cannabis grows.

“We didn’t have equipment,” Bouchard said in the report. “We’d come across huge illegal grow operations — hundreds and hundreds of plants — and we’d have to rent trucks or trailers. … The grant helps alleviate some of the costs necessary to do these activities, but it’s just a sliver.”

In Wayne County, $171,618 was used for officer wages during a surveillance operation on 32 Detroit dispensaries, during with 600 vehicles were stopped. About $100,000 was spent in Macomb County on investigations, training, laptops, raid vests and vehicles.

“We took more than 100 plants out of a person’s house,” Det. Sgt. Gary Weigan, of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department, said. “It’s hard to put all that in the property room.”

Sanilac County spent $2,850 on five semi-automatic weapons. Cheboygan County purchased Tasers. Antrim Country used $479 on night vision binoculars.

In a statement, Michael Loepp, spokesman for the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, did not comment on what the funds were being used for; just that the department was not surprised by the low participation rate in the program because it’s still relatively new.

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