“This is about money for these folks, and they know what the rules are.”- Otsego County Prosecutor Brendan Curran
photo caption: a Gaylord festival/photo from the Internet
GAYLORD- More details are becoming available from various news sources about marijuana raids Monday evening in Gaylord by Michigan State Police and other agencies, including the identity of the medical marijuana distribution centers who were targeted.
Seven people were arrested and MSP troopers “expect to arrest more,” per news reports. The names were not released publicly but it is known that Chad Morrow of Cloud 45 was among those arrested and held overnight. In addition to the Cloud, the other facilities raided were Patients First, Tincture Town, All-Well Natural Health and Michigan Medical.
All seven were charged with the illegal act of delivery of marijuana, per the Prosecutor, and more charges are still pending.
Frank James, owner of All-Well, described the raid. “They emptied our store of products that had nothing to do with marijuana,” James says. “Thousands of dollars-worth of Kratam (sic), CBD products. They clearly came in with the intent to destroy our business,” he said to local news.
D/Lt. Kenneth Mills reported to 9&10 News that officers have been working “approximately two months” on this latest round of police action, including being “able to make buys from these facilities” in which workers and owners were “dispensing marijuana to people who have medical marijuana cards but they are not their registered patients…”
Lt. Mills described the forfeited items. “Countless, well over 1,000 edibles. We also we seized approximately $20,000 in cash, six vehicles, one motorcycle and a lot of other evidence, cell phones, documents.”
Up North Live reports the seized items included “more than 20 pounds of processed marijuana, 22 marijuana plants, countless marijuana edibles (candy, ice cream, bars, drinks, etc…), marijuana wax, marijuana shatter and other items containing marijuana. Officers also found LSD, Adderall, Vyvanse and Tramadol.” Officers did not detail whether those prescription pills were legally possessed by dispensary employees.
In May of 2017 it was reported that Otsego County Prosecutor Brendan Curran sent a letter to all Gaylord-area medical marijuana dispensaries warning of future raids for non-compliant activity. “I certainly didn’t mean to start any fear or anything like that, this was just intended to be a reasonably friendly communication to encourage compliance with the law, nothing more than that,” Brendan Curran, Otsego Country prosecuting attorney told 9 &10 News at the time.
On May 25th, Curran told the Petoskey News this:
Curran said he sent the letter because he noticed at least one of the local dispensaries advertising in “suspicious” ways and offering coupons for new customers online.
“It seems to me that’s a marketing scheme that can’t possibly be in accord with the caregiver/patient relationship recognized by the government if you’re offering teasers to walk-in customers,” he said.
During the July 25 press conference about the raids, Lt. Mills said of the letter, “I guess you could kind of say that was the start, to give these people an opportunity, if they were operating illegally to follow the rules.”
The letter sparked a wave of concern about police actions which brought dispensary owners, advocates and community residents to the City Council chambers on May 24, as reported by The Petosky News. That meeting date seems to mark the beginning of the 2-month long investigation into the Gaylord area businesses which culminated in the July 24 raids.
Tough talk came from the law enforcement agencies involved in Monday’s raids.
“…it’s not something you turn a blind eye to and we’re not going to put up with it anymore,” said Lt. Mills.
Police in the Gaylord area have had a bad history of understanding the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, including telling media that the MMMA prohibited cash transactions and that oils and wax were “never” legal, claims easily refuted by activists and criminal defense attorneys. Those talking points are notoriously absent from current police -media interactions.
A brief history of raids in the Gaylord area:
May 27 2015 – 8 locations raided link
June 1, 2015 – 100 people protest raids in Gaylord link
September 3, 2015 – petitions submitted for local dispensary ordinance, approved by Gaylord city officials link
December 1, 2015 – Planning Commission unanimously approves local ordinance allowing dispensaries link
January 11, 2016 – Gaylord City Council approves zoning ordinance for dispensaries link
March 10 2016- 10 centers raided link
April 4, 2016 – Al Witt sentenced to 180 day in jail and 18 months probation for 2015 raids link
April 21 2016 – Cloud 45 raided link
August 2, 2016 – Gaylord area Prosecutor Mike Rola loses election to Brendan Curran link
May 17, 2017 – letter issued by Prosecutor Curran to all Gaylord dispensaries link
May 24, 2017 – fearful dispensary advocates call on City Council for protections link
June 12, 2017 – Gaylord officials say it will be 2018 before they issue local licenses for marijuana businesses link
July 11, 2017 – one dispensary raided for having plants outdoors link
July 24 2017 – raids on five Gaylord dispensaries link