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Lawsuit Filed Against Authorities for Illegal Closure of Dispensaries and Harassment of Patients in Michigan

Maureen Meehan

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A lawyer in Warren, Michigan’s third largest city, filed a lawsuit on Monday against the city on behalf of 23 state-approved medical marijuana users who say they are being harassed and ticketed by the Warren police, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The lawsuit also claims that zoning officials in Warren—as well as the police commissioner and mayor—have all cooperated in a policy to shut down the Michigan Safe Transfer Center through a police raid and confiscation of the owners’ property without a search warrant.

Last month, the police illegally stopped each car leaving the Transfer Center and questioned drivers in what constituted an illegal roadblock and illegal searches. Then the police proceeded to raid the center.

Michael Greiner, the attorney filing the lawsuit and part owner of the center, said that the Transfer Center legally permits caregivers to provide medical cannabis to people who are officially registered with the state of Michigan.

“We’re not a walk-in clinic—that’s why you can’t call us a dispensary,” said Bryan Mazurkiewicz, Greiner’s business partner, who added that they have been scrupulous about observing Michigan state laws on medical marijuana.

“At one time, we had about 100 caregivers operating out of here, but now we’re down to 14 after all the trouble we’ve had with the city,” Mazurkiewicz said.

The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages on behalf of the 23 plaintiffs who “have suffered embarrassment, humiliation, stress, fear, nightmares, loss of income and physical pain as a result of their inability to get needed medicine.”

While Michigan state law is vague as to whether dispensaries or transfer centers are legal, hundreds of them continue to operate, mostly in counties where prosecutors have been tolerant. Detroit alone is thought to have more than 100 dispensaries.

After all, Michigan voters chose to legalize medical marijuana in November 2008, and that included more than 65 percent of the voters in Warren.

Maureen Meehan is a New York-based writer, who has worked as a foreign correspondent for many years.

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