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A police action in Michigan proves how absurd the dynamic between law enforcement and dispensaries can be

What is it about? Why did they close it? These guys have helped me a lot."

—Bill Sowers, 57, a cannabis patient quoted by the Detroit Free Press. He showed up a few minutes after a raid last week at the Southwest Compassion Care Center in Springfield, Mich.

Police rudely interrupted patients at three central Michigan cannabis dispensaries last week, bursting through the door wearing black masks, pointing guns in innocent faces and grabbing a trove of plants, meds, computers, records and money—even cash from employees' pockets, according to one report.

This Mountain That Should Be a Molehill, much like a few that happened in Tucson last year, was carried out by a multijurisdictional SWAT team comprised of state police and po-po from a couple of nearby municipalities. The do-gooders also raided the homes of dispensary operators. There were no federal meddlers from the Holder Brigade, and no federal charges were filed. In fact, no one was arrested at all, initially. The cops just took "evidence," including a few apparently legal guns from at least one home and what one Fox News report called "IEDs." No weapons or "explosive devices" were found at the dispensaries.

These "explosive devices" were big ol' home-made fireworks bought for the Fourth of July, which would be funny if it weren't for the possibility of serious felony charges because of them. The brave defenders of evil brought in a bomb squad to dispose of something my dad would have simply lit and thrown in the backyard shortly before sending me to my room to sulk alone for a week, grounded. These folks could face prison time for having them.

Police vaguely claim—and lawyers for the dispensary operators dispute—that the dispensaries were operating outside the state cannabis laws, blah, blah, blah, blah, etc., etc., etc. It's an old story that is becoming a little too commonplace. But this story has an unlikely twist. The police also served a warrant on the city of Springfield.

Officers walked into City Hall flashing papers gleaned via the county prosecutor's office and grabbed a bunch of records concerning the dispensaries. These are public records that investigators could have gotten the same way I get public records—by asking. Instead the SWET (Southwest Enforcement Team) officers chose to intimidate local public officials by showing up at their office and snatching the records via a search warrant. Wtf? Really? Did they feel a need to wear masks and wave guns there, too?

A monthslong investigation showed cannabis exchanges at the dispensaries between improperly documented caregivers and patients, a SWET spokesman told the Free Press. Interesting wording that doesn't mention drug sales, but let's assume the worst-case scenario is true. Let's assume they caught a dispensary selling pot to a non-card holder. How exactly is that different from catching a 19-year-old Circle K clerk selling beer to his 18-year-old buddy? Do you need a SWAT squad to deal with that? No.

You don't storm into the store with guns drawn, empty the cash register, rip the security cameras off the wall and take the hot dogs off the rolling heater machine. You don't grab all the beer from the store, hoard it until things play out and destroy it. You don't go to the state Liquor Board office and snatch public records concerning that nefarious Circle K that sold liquor to minors.

You cite the Circle K owner, and he fires the kid who got him cited. End of story.

So I guess I would tell Bill Sowers, the cannabis patient at the start of this column, that it's about a couple things, really. It's about politics and perceived morality and fear and loathing. It's about change and the resistance to it. It's about inevitable clashes between the Man and mankind. But mostly it's about the people who suffer because of all those things. It's about you, Mr. Sowers. It's about you and me and us and them.

Sigh.

More by J.M. Smith

  • R.I.P., J.M.

    The hypocrisy of America's cannabis policy finally does our writer in
    • May 15, 2014
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    • May 8, 2014
  • The End Is Near

    Mr. Smith reflects on the life of his caretaker as he rages against the dying of the light
    • May 1, 2014
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