About 10:45 a.m. Michigan State Police troopers and undercover drug officers drove into the parking lot of The Karmacy at 4549 W. Dickman Road. At the same time officers went to the Southwest Compassion Care Center at 700 N. 20th St., and Happy Daze at 695 N. 20th St., both in Springfield.
Officers left the two centers on 20th Street by mid-afternoon but were still at The Karmacy late in the day.
Officers also went to a home in Kalamazoo County and one in Barry County where owners or managers of The Karmacy lived, according to Detective Lt. Wayne Edington of the Michigan State Police Southwest Enforcement Team, an undercover drug unit. He said troopers along with undercover officers from units in Jackson and Allegan and from the department’s computer crimes unit assisted in the raids.
Officers had a sixth search warrant for the offices of the City of Springfield and Edington said they were seeking documents about the licenses and financial records issued and kept by the city for all three businesses.
City Manager Frank Peterson said the city complied with the search warrant and turned over copies of the records.
Edington said the raids were part of an investigation begun late in 2012 because “all three were operating outside the scope of the medical marijuana law.” He said search warrants were obtained through the Calhoun County Prosecutor, David Gilbert.
Edinton said investigators believe the businesses were violating the law because the exchange of marijuana was not between properly documented care givers and a properly documented patient.
All three of the businesses were targeted because they were told by Gilbert weeks ago that they were not complying with the law.
“They said they were here and they were told to cease by Mr. Gilbert,” Edington said. “We didn’t have to find them. They were clearly there.” Both Gilbert and his Chief Assistant, Matt Smith, stopped at all three of the businesses after officers executed the search warrants.
Smith said later that troopers found a large marijuana growing operation inside the Karmacy and several people smoking marijuana in a room at Happy Daze. Troopers used fans to clear that business of smoke before beginning their search.
Investigators have alleged that undercover officers were able to purchase marijuana at the businesses, but an attorney for The Karmacy said that is impossible.
“We would welcome undercover officers to come in,” said attorney Bruce Leach of Grand Blanc. “They would see that they were operating the way they were supposed to. The officer would be required to be a member and obtain medicine from his care giver.”
Leach argued that The Karmacy is following the law and has changed operations to comply with changing interpretations of Michigan’s medical marijuana statute.
“The prosecutor doesn’t believe they are complying with the law but we are confident in our defense. They did not break the law. And if he wants to test the waters he will find out.”
Leach said the amounts of marijuana kept by the business and the methods of distribution are done correctly.
He said no one was arrested Wednesday “but of course they are going to charge them. They are the most professional and well-run in the state. Any charges should be dismissed.”
Edington said late Wednesday he had not compiled information from several teams of officers about what was seized and said he didn’t know if anyone was arrested.
At the Southwest Compassion Care Center, co-owner Michael Cain of Battle Creek said “we got raided. They came in and robbed us and took all of our money and all of our stuff. They just looted us.”
Cain, who said he has operated the business two years with partner Matt McMurtrie of Battle Creek, said “Police said they had made a buy. But everyone who comes in has a card.”
Cain said they have a license from Springfield and have complied with the state law and the city ordinance.
He said using a dispensary is the best way for patients to obtain their marijuana.
“It is safer to come to a retail place,” he said. “It’s for people who can’t grow it a home.”
A customer of the business, Bill Sowers, 57, of Sturgis, arrived after the raid and after Cain closed the business.
Sowers said he obtained a medical marijuana card three years ago to help deal with pain from a broken back he sustained in the military. He said he smoked marijuana for years to help the pain and had been coming to the business about once a week for a year.
“What is it about?” he asked from his car. “Why did they close it? These guys have helped me a lot.”
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