"Do you expect to see any violence here today?"
"I certainly hope so." --
Narcotics officer Sgt. Stedenko, aka "Hardhat," answers a reporter's question at a drug checkpoint on the U.S.- Mexican border, from the film Up In Smoke.
Sal Agro, a 67-year-old man from Lake Orion, Michigan, died of a heart attack on September 2. Although those responsible for Agro's untimely death will never admit as much, he was the victim of an act of state terrorism carried out a week earlier by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office
Agro, along with his son, helped operate a treatment center in nearby Ferndale called Clinical Relief that provided medical marijuana to physician-approved clients under a 2008 Michigan state law. Sal, who had recently undergone hip surgery, was authorized to grow and use marijuana himself. His wife was authorized both to use marijuana and provide it to others as a caregiver. They had invited local officials to inspect the Clinical Relief facility.
Last June, with at least eight applications pending to open facilities like Clinical Relief, the Ferndale City Council imposed a temporary moratorium on dispensing medical marijuana while it explored new ways to harass the facilities through zoning restrictions. This prompted an objection from Mayor Craig Covey, who pointed out that the medical marijuana clinics would already be covered by existing ordinances. Nor were they likely to be profitable, given the detailed and often self-contradictory regulations inflicted on them under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), which voters approved by referendum in 2008.
On August 25, the Ferndale City Council lifted the moratorium. On the very next day, the local counter-narcotics Gestapo staged a paramilitary raid against several locations in Oakland County, arresting 15 people, confiscating cash and crops, illegally seizing medical records, and terrorizing unarmed, helpless people who suffer from cancer and other painful afflictions. Most importantly, of course, the raiders got a potent fix of their preferred narcotic -- the depraved thrill that comes from making powerless people submit to their whims.
It's hardly an exaggeration to characterize the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) as the local "Gestapo." Agro used that term to describe the ski mask-clad marauders who laid waste to his home, ripping apart furniture, throwing potting soil into the carpets and -- of course -- helping themselves to whatever cash they could find.
A similar home invasion robbery was carried out at the Lake Orion home of Agro's daughter-in-law. "She's approximately five-foot, weighs about eighty-nine pounds, and the masked officers put a shotgun in her face and told her to freeze," a wearily disgusted Agro recalled to a local reporter.
After learning about the raid, Agro went back to his house, which was swarming with armed tax-feeders.
"I asked what was going on, and they said, `Your house is being searched,'" Agro related. "I said, `Do you have a search warrant?' They said, `Yes.' I said, `Can I see it?' They said, `When we get ready to show it to you.'" Despite the fact that the invaders had a note from a judge supposedly authorizing them to trash Agro's home, the raid was, as the victim pointed out, an act of "illegal search and seizure," since the money and property that were stolen had nothing to do with a criminal act.
The same lawless behavior was on display at another facility called Everyone’s Café, where police threw cancer patients to the ground and held them at gunpoint.
"What took place in Oakland is nothing short of armed robbery," protests Gersh Avery, a local medical marijuana activist. "Patients in those locations had nothing to do with the day-to-day operations, yet their medicine was forcibly taken from them." The NET, Avery concludes, "deliberately targeted sick innocent people."
The official sadism continued after the case was split into two groups of defendants. Judge Richard Kuhn of Michigan's 51st District Court in Waterford refused to waive a bond condition permitting the use of medical marijuana by defendants who had received medical authorization to do so. Astoundingly, 43rd District Judge Joe Longo, who is presiding over the case in Ferndale, permitted defendants with medical marijuana cards to continue using the palliative while out on bail. This, of course, begs the question of why those people are criminal defendants in the first place.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard claims that the raid followed "undercover" investigations of Clinical Relief and Everyone's Cafe. William Joseph Teichman, co-owner of Everyone's Cafe, insists that "We check the identification of every patient we deal with, and those undercover cops had either proper ID and paperwork or forgeries so good we couldn't tell the difference."
In a post-raid press conference, Sheriff Bouchard -- grasping for a suitable soundbite -- described the local medical marijuana market as "something out of a bad Cheech and Chong Movie," without elaborating as to whether he considers "Up in Smoke" or "Nice Dreams" to be the gold standard of the stoner duo's cinematic output.
Bouchard himself essays a pretty decent impression of Sgt. Stedenko, the bullying, authoritarian narcotics officer who was a recurring nemesis in the comedy team's films.
Ryan Richmond, co-owner of Clinical Relief and one of the defendants in the Ferndale case, asserts that Bouchard "simply doesn't like the [Michigan state medical marijuana] law because it's too broad. If Bouchard has his way, we, you, have no rights even within the law."
Bouchard's critics are not limited to those he has arrested on marijuana-related charges.
"I personally don't understand why the county would use such a large amount of precious law enforcement resources on something like this," objects Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey. "This was obviously a political move by the sheriff to flex his muscles and send a message that he does not want medical marijuana clinics in Oakland County."
Covey also criticized "the use of SWAT teams with masked and armed officers ordering sick, elderly patients to the ground.... Now it's going to cost the taxpayers and the business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees to sort through this mess."
Bouchard's admitted purpose in staging the raids was not to enforce the existing law, but rather to create a "test case" intended to change it, either in substance or in application. By strict definition, this was an exercise of violence against the helpless intended to bring about political change -- that is, an act of official terrorism.
Although Bouchard accuses medical marijuana advocates and providers of engaging in "organized crime," that description makes a much better fit when applied to the NET, which is a federally designated multi-agency task force. Thanks to an indulgence granted by the so-called Department of Justice, the NET has a license to steal in the name of "asset forfeiture."
According to the Madison Heights Police Department's 2009 Annual Report, last year the NET seized a little more than a ton of marijuana and pilfered nearly $2 million through asset forfeiture. The August 26 raids pulled down tens of thousands of dollars in cash, including money the late Sal Agro and his wife Barbara had put aside toward the purchase of a new car.
Bouchard and Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper insist that the MMMA is dangerously ambiguous because it supposedly encourages people to flout the state's existing laws criminalizing the use and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes. They are correct in saying that the law is a masterpiece of self-contradiction, but emphatically wrong about the nature of the resulting danger: The risk of smoking weed without government permission is much less acute than that posed by power-intoxicated armed bureaucrats willing to carry out illegal paramilitary raids that target non-violent, chronically ill "offenders."
A concurring opinion by Judge P.J. O'Connell in a recent Michigan Court of Appeals case points out that "The MMMA does not codify a right to use marijuana; it merely provides a procedure through which seriously ill individuals using marijuana for its palliative effects can be identified and protected from prosecution under state law." It creates a narrow "affirmative defense to prosecutions under the Public Health Code, allowing an individual to use marijuana by freeing him or her from the threat of arrest and prosecution if that user meets all the requirements of the MMMA, while permitting prosecution under the Public Health Code if the individual fails to meet any of the requirements set forth under the MMMA."
The MMMA, furthermore, does not change the status of marijuana under state law, which lists the demonstrably harmless cannabinoid as a "Schedule 1" controlled substance" that has "no accepted medical use." What this means, in practice, is that anyone who uses or provides medical marijuana in strict fidelity of the terms and conditions dictated by the MMMA is still presumptively a criminal suspect.
Because of the incurable self-contradictions of the MMMA, Judge O'Connell warns, conscientious people who obey its provisions and seek marijuana for palliative care could still "lose both their property and their liberty" -- or even as the needless, government-inflicted death of Sal Agro demonstrates, their lives.
Drunk with Fear, and Sick with Dread!
Personally I think this is more of the US's unflinching Bias against Marajuana than necessarily exclusively an example of why you hate cops.
Private bounty hunters in the employ of US interests were just as wrong when they Kidnapped Mark Emery from Canada where he is a legal citizen and was committing no crimes against Canadian Law. However his Online medical marajuana business did offend the US which considered it a sufficiently severe crime to Kidnap a foreign national and subject him to American law when he is neither a citizen nor (prior to his abduction) resident of the United States.
When Canada toyed with decriminalizing Marajuana on a Federal level, the diplomatic noises from the US were again quite threatening. Such a policy would make Canada a grave security risk and every thing from border security to trade agreements would have to be re-examined. Weather our leaders bowed to these bully tactics or just decided the law wasn't feasable due to domestic politics I do not know.
The fact remains that the US seems to have an irrational hate on for Marajuana.
33. If you're leaving tracks, you're being followed
I am sure this will not be the last of this case. this is just the beginning and all party's that broke the law will go to jail. Even the prosecutor if he/ or she said to go through with it. But papagolfwhiskey dose have a point you do have a problem with the law, and law enforcement. Look there are allot of good hard working police out there then there some really stupid ones then you got dirty cops. Plus the pressure of politics placed on the police, for arrested.Here in the county I live in county speeding ticket revenue as part of the budget income. Here the cachet the police were asked to take cutbacks on salary so the word was out that they were written less tickets and giving more warning's. This is a clear conflict with revenue, politics and the popper law enforcement. to me any county or city that counts money from citations as income for the budget is way out of line.
If can’t poke fun at yourself do not poke fun at other good chance you’ll loose