Investigation stalls county health board appointment

Officials set to probe Facebook for marijuana-related posts

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 4 — Ingham County officials are tapping the brakes on an appointment to the Ingham Community Health Centers board of directors as they launch an investigation into suspicious Facebook activity.

Lansing resident Dan Ross — after running a failed write-in campaign for Lansing City Council in November — was unanimously recommended last month by the Health Center’s Board of Directors to join its ranks as its newest board member. But concerns over weed on his social media feed have since paused the process altogether.

“The executive committee voted unanimously this morning to suspend the referral of Dan Ross pending the outcome of an investigation,” board Chairman Todd Heywood said. “There are implications related to our ethics policy, and we’re just exercising our due diligence here.”

City Pulse contacted both Ross and Heywood yesterday after a reporter uncovered a slew of suspicious social media posts on Ross’ Facebook page in recent months. Among them: Multiple pictures of bagged marijuana, a post advertising for $35 “quarters” and several invitations from Ross’ to his Facebook friends to “hit him up.”

One post from August noted that Ross was “taking orders.” Others suggested he had marijuana “on deck” and were filled with comments inquiring about pricing. One friend asked if Ross could “front” products until the end of the month. Other comments appeared to offer Ross thanks for providing his friends with marijuana.

Just last week, Ross posted about a hybrid marijuana strain and invited friends to contact him to learn more. Yesterday, Ross posted that he no longer has vaporizer pens and batteries but “may know” where THC cartridges can be found at a low price. State officials, for context, banned the sale of THC cartridges last month.

Ross said he doesn’t directly sell THC cartridges or marijuana on his Facebook page but may “occasionally offer a way to get a good product at a very nice price.” He said he used to sell marijuana to cardholding patients but wouldn’t consider himself a drug dealer — only the “Robin Hood” of weed.

Ross declined to comment on whether he buys marijuana illegally.

In an earlier interview, he said, “I hate the way people are overcharged for many things, including marijuana. It’s legal now, so if I can help someone out, hey, that’s what I do. … Words are everything. You always see me with it, but you never see me saying I have it for sale. Maybe at a point in time very recently, but not since running for City Council.”

Under state law, recreational marijuana sales are only permitted within the confines of a fully licensed dispensary. Friend-to-friend transactions, while arguably more culturally acceptable in recent years, remain illegal. An exception is carved out for “gifting” marijuana, but cash cannot legally be exchanged for black market products.

Ross said his Facebook posts are “more of an invite for my friends to come smoke or save a little cash” rather than an actual sales mechanism. And that offer is usually only made available to a close-knit circle of his friends.

“Just because it’s on Facebook doesn’t mean I deal with strangers and everybody up under the sun,” Ross said. “I’m not a drug dealer. It’s not exactly my bread and butter. You might think a lot of people are hitting me up for smoke, but it’s really not. It’s the exact same friends of mine trying to get in on my bag. I get good smoke.”

Heywood said an upcoming (and still unscheduled) public hearing will offer Ross a chance to better explain the suspicious nature of his Facebook activity and will ultimately determine if the Board of Directors will continue to unanimously endorse Ross for the board-level vacancy at Ingham Community Health Centers.

“Mr. Ross comes to the table with a really important and valuable voice as someone who was formerly incarcerated, struggled in the community and worked to build up this community,” Heywood added. “That unique perspective is so valuable to the work that we do, and it’s important to go through a full due process.”

Ingham Community Health Centers comprise seven facilities that offer specialty medical services and comprehensive primary care to residents regardless of insurance status or ability to pay for treatment. Its federally certified programs service about 25,000 patients each year and are controlled by a board of directors.

Ross was slated to become the 17th member of that board pending a final confirmation from the county’s Human Services Committee and later from the full Board of Commissioners. Ross’ Facebook activity, however, has paused the process while the Health Centers’ Board of Directors investigates the situation.

Ross has also been active in police protests in Lansing, including earlier this year over the Lansing Police Department’s handling of a black teenage girl who resisted arrest. In his teenage years, he was convicted of credit card fraud and passing bad checks, including a felony that sent him to jail for a year and remains on his record.

Ross earned his GED inside the Eaton County Jail and later received an associate degree in medical office administration from the Career Quest Learning Center in Lansing. In addition to an unknown full-time job, he said he does “odd jobs” to earn a living, including delivery work and offering rides through both Uber and Lyft.

“We know by now that I’m not the type to walk on eggshells,” Ross added. “Believe in people being themselves. I indulge in marijuana and am in full support of it being legal. And I’m not trying to hide that.”

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