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by Meghan Morelli Up North Live
OTSEGO CO. -- Medical marijuana supporters protested in Gaylord Monday, following a raid on more than a dozen dispensaries and homes last week in Otsego County and the surrounding area.
Protest organizers say they’re upset about the way police handled last week’s raids.
Investigators from the Straits Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (SANE), Michigan State Police, and local law enforcement executed 16 search warrants Wednesday evening on the dispensaries believed to have been operating outside the laws set for medical marijuana distribution.
Lt. Ken Mills says the businesses are believed to have been providing medical marijuana to people that were not their registered patients.
No arrests have been made at this time.
“Places are shuttered and people are without safe access to their medicine and that is our concern,” said Jamie Lowell, Chair of the Michigan Americans for Safe Access. “So we believe there is a much better way of doing this and we’d like to help be a part of that education.”
The group marched through Gaylord carrying signs and shouting their message before gathering on the lawn of the MSP Gaylord Post.
Organizers say they’re calling on the state to stop these raids and to protect the people from the harm they say raids cause.
Veronica James, the owner of AllWell Natural Health in Gaylord, says the experience of having her home and business raided was traumatic. She says she wishes investigators had gotten business owners together to explain what they felt was being done wrong.
“A lot of our personal belongings gone, because the first thing they do is come and ask for money so it was a very confusing experience as you can imagine but it was very traumatic too, the bottom line when you go through something like that,” said James.
James says they want people to see that the dispensaries will hold together. She says they are also worried about how they will get medicine to their patients as the investigation moves forward.
While investigators did not require the stores to shut down, some doors still remain locked and many patients say they are not able to get their medicine because of what was seized during the raids.
Mike Harris uses medical marijuana for severe tremors. The medicine helps to calm them, but he says he’s run out since the raids.
“It’s hard to cook, it’s hard to pour, I drink into a glass, it’s hard to shave…it’s that severe,” said Harris.
Several protestors entered the MSP building on Monday but police did not come outside to address the crowd.
Lt. Mills had this to say about the complaints:
“Nobody’s happy to have their houses searched or in this case some of the businesses that were in operation there searched. But everybody was treated decently and everybody was cooperative and I haven’t heard anything different.”
Cars, guns, cash, marijuana plants and buds were seized during the raids. Lt. Mills says investigators are still going through the evidence and will soon be forwarding their report on to the Otsego County Prosecutor for review.