Benzie County Dispensary Raids Create Controversy

“They treated us like criminals when we are patients. We are here to help the community.”

Controversy continues tonight after police raids at medical marijuana dispensaries in Benzie County.

The Traverse Narcotics Team and the Benzie County Sheriff’s Department arrested four people from three dispensaries yesterday.

All are along U.S. 31 in Benzie County.

Two are in Benzonia and one is in Interlochen.

The four people arrested are not formally charged yet.

Northern Michigan’s News Leader pulled court documents showing the people are charged with felonies for manufacturing and delivering marijuana.

“We are trying to be a legitimate business,” says Aaron Fast, the manager of 31 Head Shop. Their business is in the same building as the 31 Provisioning Center, which was raided yesterday.

He say they did nothing wrong.

“They came in here like they were looking for drug dealers when we are more considered pharmacists. The state of Michigan has made this legal who are they to decide that it’s not,” says Fast.

While details are limited on this case, by law any person running a dispensary is limited to a certain number of patients.

“At a dispensary I suppose one person could run the dispensary and allow their five patients to come there, but those would be the only five people who would legally be allowed to buy marijuana from that caregiver,” says Benzie County Prosecutor Sara Swanson.

Reverend Steve Thompson advocates for marijuana reform. He argues the law is too gray and the 5 patient rule doesn’t always apply.

“In order to own a dispensary you have to be a medical marijuana patient yourself that entitles you to transfer any medical legitimate medical marijuana patient there is,” says Rev. Thompson.

But the prosecutor says the law is black and white.

“The law was not that clear when it was written so it’s been interpreted quite a few times by the court of appeals and Michigan Supreme Court and it’s still ongoing at this time, though the way the law stands patient to patient transfers are not legal,” says Swanson.

The four people arrested will be arraigned next Thursday.