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Michigan cannabis business owner horrified by state police SWAT raid

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — On the quiet morning of Thursday, October 6, the Great Lakes Hemp Supplements store in Traverse City was a cannabis business with CBD products, and a window read, “Healers are not dealers.” .

Consolation was shattered.

“This is a raid,” yelled a Michigan state trooper who rushed to the front door.

“Someone is yelling ‘state police,'” said Megan O’Brien, a 26-year-old office manager who was meeting with customers in another room. “You turn the corner and a dozen or so of him come in with guns.”

In addition to tobacco tax violations, it was the State Police’s Marijuana and Tobacco Investigation Unit, a special enforcement unit that targets marijuana-related criminal activity outside the jurisdiction of the Cannabis Control Agency.

Police suspected the business to be an illegal pharmacy.

At a small cannabis farm and private residence ten miles (10 miles) away, Great Lakes Hemp Supplements owner Michael Thue was simultaneously handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a police car.

Police allege Thue’s operations violate laws regulating the commercial production and sale of marijuana. According to the search warrant, which Thue shared with MLive, they have “all evidence to help investigate drug manufacturing and trafficking, continuation of criminal business, unauthorized marijuana cultivation, and violations of Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Facility License Act.” I was looking for

Marijuana is legal to use, but it is illegal to sell it for commercial purposes outside of licensed markets. The state’s medical marijuana law passed in 2008 has guidelines that allow caregivers to sell to designated eligible patients.

Thue claims the business operates openly and legally under the Medical Marijuana Act.

Michael Chu

Michael Thue, owner of Great Lakes Hemp Supplements, is a business whose home was raided by state police on October 6.

Thue’s business sells hemp and CBD products, helps certify medical marijuana patients, and operates as a “compassion club” that provides marijuana to certified patients. Thue said the business has been operating for years and believes all activities are legal.

Searching property “is not the way to address questions about legal disagreements,” he said. “I am very vocal and very involved in the community. If they asked, I would be happy to sit down and show them how I run my business.”

Thue’s estimated 40 law enforcement officers were at his residence and business site.

Related: Michigan poised to step up crackdown on black market marijuana

State police confirmed a search warrant had been served but declined to comment further, citing an ongoing investigation.Thue has not yet been charged.

Seizure records list more than 400 suspected marijuana plants removed from the fields, greenhouses and “basement” of Thuet’s residence, including 50 suspected peyote cacti and six bags of suspected psychedelic mushrooms. , rifles, shotguns, $401 cash, scattered. Marijuana flowers and stems.

Thue said his growing partner is a Native American Church grower and is federally protected from prosecution for growing or possessing peyote or psilocybin mushrooms.

His John Deere tractor was loaded onto a flatbed and confiscated. Most of the plants were cut down, piled and burned, leaving charred circles on the lawn.

In business, police seized various CBD and marijuana products, THC bath bombs, salves and massage oils, more questionable marijuana flowers, vaping products, tinctures, and another jar of questionable psychedelic mushrooms.

Thue said marijuana was grown by his father and a friend, and certified caregivers are allowed to grow up to 12 plants each for each registered patient. Plants not accounted for by caregiver restrictions were “small” seedlings in six-inch pots used for genetic testing rather than consumption, and many were hemp rather than marijuana.

He met with state police troopers on Monday to obtain a copy of one of the search warrants that police left behind when police left Twe’s company last week.

“I said, couldn’t you come and talk to me?” Chu said he asked the troopers at their meeting. “He said, well, it kind of ruined my investigation. I’ve been in the open for 13 of his years, but I’d rather have a raid, a judge’s job than fix a license problem.” I’m trying to get the public prosecutor to take it up.”

If the city allows it, Twe hopes to open a recreational marijuana dispensary with a partner from the city of Traverse.

Thue stood outside the Capitol Building in Lansing for the Michigan Cannabis Harvest Rally on Tuesday, October 11, as speakers, music, activists, regulators and business owners littered the lawn to celebrate cannabis and the industry. .

Most in the marijuana community already knew that Too had run into police. He has spoken publicly about it on social media.

Jamie Lowell, co-host of the marijuana industry podcast Jazz Cabbage Cafe, said, “Whatever the issue, paramilitary aggression for cannabis activity is no longer appropriate.” There were a lot of questions as to what the problem was” and it is possible that a “more realistic approach could have been taken”.

Police Raid Michael Chu Great Lakes Hemp Supplements

A Traverse City greenhouse suspected of containing marijuana was raided by state police on October 6. The facility is owned by Michael Chu, who runs his CBD and clinic for medical marijuana patients.

Rick Thompson, who heads the Michigan chapter of the National Marijuana Law Reform Agency (NORML) and co-hosts the podcast with Lowell, said police have “many other options, and we’re looking at other options to revitalize enforcement.” There is no need to rely on the means of It’s the way business is done in 2007. “

“I think the Michigan State Police are doing the same thing as the Michigan State Police, but they don’t want to listen to agencies telling them to restrain themselves,” Thompson said. “This is a consistent issue that we’ve seen the Michigan State Police doing more than they really need to.”

Thue took classes and passed tests to qualify as a medical assistant to better help medical marijuana customers. He said he was “bankrupt” and dedicated to helping patients and not subverting the licensed market to get rich.

The raid came after many within the marijuana industry complained that unlicensed marijuana was invading and competing with licensed marijuana.

Brian Hannah, a former CRA marijuana inspector and investigator and former state police crime analyst, was named acting director of the Marijuana Licensing Agency in September. Shows plans to strengthen. While Hannah’s role is to enforce rules within the regulated market, the CRA also works with state police to conduct investigations related to black market marijuana.

Related: Marijuana business halted after marijuana duffel bag found

It’s unclear if that relationship contributed to last week’s Traverse City raid.

The CRA this week issued a 30-day suspension and fine to a Detroit medical marijuana dealer in May 2021 after inspectors observed backpacks and duffle bags filled with suspected untagged marijuana. The lack of industry tracking tags leaves the possibility that black market marijuana has sneaked into the regulated market. The business has neither denied nor confirmed the allegations.

The matter was handled by the licensing agency, not the police.

Thue believes hemp, not marijuana, may be the motive behind the police raid on his property.

Hemp is cannabis that contains very little THC, the highly inducing compound found in marijuana. Hemp is grown as a commodity for use in a variety of industrial and construction products, but most is unregulated and grown for the extraction of CBD, which is believed to contain therapeutic properties. It has been.

Thue previously had a farm license with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to grow 1,100 hemp plants, but that license expired this year. He said most of the hemp plantations equipped with irrigation systems were empty when police arrived.

While MDARD still licenses industrial hemp farms, CRA took over oversight of processing, production and marketing related to hemp extracts, including CBD, in February. Thue said he began the application process to become a hemp processor but stopped based on language in his application stating CBD was illegal.

“Once legalized in Michigan, we would like to process hemp for CBD oil, tinctures, food, beverages, or animal feed,” states a checkbox on the application. Thue wondered why he would license CBD if legally he could not produce it.

When asked about the language in the cannabis processor’s application, CRA spokesman David Hearns said the language was removed in September, but the legality of CBD processing was not immediately forthcoming. Did not comment.

“He’s been in this industry for as long as I’ve known him,” David Clavill, president of hemp farming and trading group iHemp Michigan, said of Twe after hearing the raid. He wasn’t harming anyone, which is insane.

The store manager, O’Brien, who was present when police stormed Thue’s store, said she believed the store was legally operating as a dispensary, not a dispensary under the Medical Marijuana Act. said.

“We literally have big vinyl (decals) on our windows that tell us what we do and who we are,” she said. “Even if they thought we were doing something illegal, I don’t think we did…

“But at the same time, I’m scared to come to work. The police said I need to find a new job and I’m a suspect in all this.

More about MLive:

Marijuana reformers praise Biden

Michigan poised to tighten marijuana crackdown

Business halted after bag of marijuana found

Marijuana is legal in Michigan, but mothers may face CPS investigations if they use marijuana

Marijuana in Michigan ‘shocked’ over director’s resignation

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