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Thursday, December 2,2010

Here come the Feds

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency cleans out a medical marijuana growing facility in Okemos

by Andy Balaskovitz

This story was corrected Dec.' 5.


Thursday, Dec. 2 — The federal Drug Enforcement Agency has raided a medical marijuana grow facility in Okemos. The man leasing space at the facility says the plant numbers were within the state’s medical marijuana law.

Ryan Basore, owner of Capital City Caregivers at 2208 E. Michigan Ave., also leases the 3,000-square-foot industrial facility that was raided at 2360 Jolly Oak Road in Okemos on Tuesday. Basore said other tri-county police departments participated in the raid but not Ingham County or Meridian Township police.

Basore said the DEA “took everything,” including growing equipment, 40 plants and roughly $20,000 worth of plant nutrients. Six caregivers leasing facility space from Basore owned the plants.

As both a medical marijuana patient and a caregiver, Basore can legally possess up to 72 plants himself, he said. A patient may have 12 plants and a caregiver may have up to 60.

Basore said he believes the raid stemmed from a neighbor’s complaint about the growing operation.

Special Agent Rich Isaacson, a public information officer at the DEA’s Detroit branch, confirmed today that a federal search warrant was executed Tuesday night at the facility near the intersection of Okemos and Jolly roads.

He would not comment further on the raid because the case is under investigation.

However, he said the DEA does not differentiate between “medical marijuana and marijuana” when it comes to “large-scale drug trafficking groups.”

“That being said, people following state law will not be targeted,” Isaacson said. “We are not utilizing our resources on folks that are following state law.”

The DEA recognizes cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, along with the likes of heroin, LSD and ecstasy, claiming it has no medicinal use.

In 2008, 63 percent of Michigan voters disagreed and passed the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act as a state ballot initiative.

Basore expressed concern about not getting back confiscated plants and equipment. He said the DEA has kept confiscated items in raids that did result in arrests in other states where medical marijuana was also legal.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, interim Lansing Police Chief Teresa Szymanski and State Reps. George Cushingberry Jr. and Fred Durhal Jr., both Detroit Democrats,' about the matter. He said they are all “upset.”

He said roughly 60 law enforcement vehicles were at the scene Tuesday night. Basore added that a black SUV had been staking out the site for about “three to four months.”

U.S. Federal Judge Joseph Scoville from Michigan’s Western District in Grand Rapids signed a search warrant Nov. 24 to seize a host of cannabis-related materials at Basore’s facility.

This incident is likely to draw the attention from groups who say the federal government is overstepping its boundaries when it comes to medical marijuana, which is allowed in 13 other states besides Michigan.

“We’ll see. It’s going to get interesting,” Basore said.

Basore is in the process of putting together a legal team to fight the case.

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