ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN- Michigan's medical marijuana community showed strong support for a defendant in the tiny west Michigan town of St. Joseph by bringing 60 people to the Berrien County Courthouse on April 25.
The effort was organized by the Michigan chapters of The Human Solution, a national organization that supports those imprisoned for marijuana crimes and those trapped in the judicial system for similar offenses. The case being heard involved Jeffrey Miller, accused of transferring medical marijuana to an undercover officer posing as a sick person with a real medical marijuana card.
The case was originally ruled on using the Van Sickle legal ruling, which has since been overturned. Attorney Daniel Grow argued that the ruling had to be revisited because of the reliance on bad law; the judge refused to reconsider the issue. He imposed new requirements on the caregiver, per recent court rulings in Tuttle and Hartwick, indicating that since the police officer had lied to the doctor in order to obtain his medical marijuana card through fraud that all transactions performed with the fake patient were illegal in nature.
The case raises issues of entrapment and explores the limits of the government's ability to lie and deceive its citizens in the blind pursuit of drug arrests. Although the decision in the case went against Mr. Miller, who will now stand trial for the transfer without the ability to mention his medical marijuana status to a jury, the showing of support in the court will be remembered for months and years to come.
The impact of that single day's event went beyond the courtroom attendance record. People were shocked to hear the pot leaf-embellished Cannabus was taken through the heart of the county and was never pulled over or harassed by police. The people that saw the bus were inspired to talk about marijuana law reform. The pictures they took will float around in social media circles for years.
Media is a big part of the effort to change minds. Cannabus owner and operator Stacey Theis appears on a pair of radio shows featured on Blogtalk Radio, an Internet radio station: she does a regular spot on 'The Human Solution Live' show on Sundays and appears on 'The Planet Green Trees Show' on Thursday evenings when court actions are pending in Michigan. During their April 27 broadcast, Theis told listeners of The Human Solution Show, "It was a packed courthouse. I'm out of (THS) ribbons again."
"60 people, wow,'" agreed national THS organizer Joe Grumbine. "That's incredible."
"It was another hard court support," Theis added. "We had to listen to a judge not really say anything that had any value or any common sense to it as he justified police being able to manipulate people."
"Those 60 people that came to court got to see what really happens, they got to experience it," Grumbine observed.
Theis related an incident from the courtroom proceedings. "The (defense) lawyer really started making some good valid arguments on why we could reopen this case," she said, "the judge decides to act like we are misbehaving. The judge stops the lawyer from finishing his good point, looks out into the crowd and decides to pick two people to kick out of the courtroom. He picked Steve Green and Rick Thompson."
That revelation caught Grumbine and the on air staff off guard, bringing laughter and disbelief from the show participants. "That's the two people that teach people how to behave in court," Theis laughed. Green has fought marijuana charges and court battles on his own and as the father of Baby Bree; he's also a founding member of Michigan's The Human Solution initial chapter.
Berrien County is notorious as one of the worst counties in Michigan for medical marijuana patients and caregivers. The court supporters brought their compassionate message into that hostile territory- and they brought a big green school bus painted with cannabis liberation slogans to make their point.
Stacey Theis drove that bus directly into the heart of the hostile county. As one of the riders on the Cannabus I can tell you I saw dozens, if not hundreds, of people that either waved at us in support, honked their horns as we drove by or pulled over and posed for pictures with the big green Cannabus.
Even the police wanted their picture taken with the Cannabus.
While sitting in the Berrien County Courthouse parking lot before the Miller hearing began, a marked Michigan State Police cruiser circled the bus, then pulled up near the emergency exit. Two plainclothes officers climbed out of the car and stood in front of the bus, smiling, arm in arm, as the uniformed driver of the squad car took their picture with a cell phone. The officers joked with the Cannabus riders for a bit before returning to their regular duties.
For Cannabus driver and owner Theis, this was nothing new. She told TCC, "The first time the Cannabus got pulled over, it was because the cop wanted to have his picture taken with the bus."