Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Up in smoke
. . . .

Up in smoke

Anne Stanton - December 20th, 2010
Up in Smoke:  Legal battles create ongoing drama for medical
marijuana growers
By Anne Stanton
 Medical marijuana grower and patient Cecil Drost was able to drive off for
a Florida vacation last week instead of going to jail, relieved that
Charlevoix Prosecutor John Jarema decided to drop all charges against him.
But Drost anxiously wonders if he’ll be compensated for the estimated
$100,000 worth of medical marijuana plants that were seized in the raid.
Drost’s 32 plants were destroyed on September 20, after the Joint
Operational Law Enforcement (JOLT) multi-jurisdictional drug team flew
over Drost’s property in a black helicopter. Shortly afterward, five JOLT
officers entered Drost’s property next door to his home where he has a
barn, an RV, and an enclosed and locked steel mesh hoop house covered by a
white tarp and surrounded by a six-foot tall chain link fence. It was
here that Drost grew marijuana plants for himself and two other medical
marijuana patients.
The deputies edged around a locked power gate blocking his driveway and
went on Drost’s property without a search warrant at about 1:45 p.m. More
than two hours later, they persuaded Assistant Prosecutor Shaynee Fanara
to sign a search warrant by reporting to her that they had found marijuana
growing behind a tarp and “a fence with large open holes in it.”
Drost’s defense attorney, Jesse Williams, said the report of holes in the
fence was a “complete fabrication,” in documents filed with the court,
using photographs as proof. Deputies seized and destroyed all 32 plants.

CLOSED CHAMBERS
More than a dozen people gathered in the courtroom to see the resulting
trial, but heard none of the deliberations that took place in the closed
chambers and at the podium of 90th District Court Judge Richard May.
At the last minute, the prosecutor asked for a promise from Drost to put
chicken wire over the roof of the hoop house. Williams said he readily
agreed because it meant that deputies would “never mess with Cecil again.
Putting that on the record is a safeguard for Cecil. Now he can have a
whole outdoor grow operation, unique to the whole state, and he won’t have
to continue putting plastic on top.”
Jarema said the reason for the chicken wire was that a kid could climb up
the six-foot fence, lean over and grab the plant that was sticking out of
the hoop house near the ground. “I just wanted to make sure people
couldn’t come in and grab his dope.”
Drost said after the trial that he didn’t believe the chicken wire would
make the hoop house any more secure. Someone would need a 14-foot arm with
multiple joints to reach over the six-foot chain link fence and through
another fence (with wider holes than a chicken fence) to the plants
inside, he said.
The Express ran an article about Drost’s troubles in its October 11 issue,
along with a videotaped interview on Up North TV 97. Following
publication, Jarema amped up the original misdemeanor charge to a
four-year felony of delivery and manufacture of a controlled substance,
according to court documents signed on October 19.
Jarema eventually reduced the felony charge to the original misdemeanor
violation of health department regulations after talking to Williams.

HEMP HELICOPTER
Williams asked the court to dismiss the misdemeanor charge, alleging that
the search warrant was obtained on false premises. Along with erroneously
asserting there were holes in the fence, Charlevoix Sheriff’s Deputy
William Church wrote that “the HEMP helicopter spotted marijuana growing”
on the defendant’s property. Williams argued that a “helicopter cannot
visually spot marijuana.”  He added that the law does not require that
medical marijuana plants be invisible from the air space, but only in a
locked and secure enclosure, according to documents filed with the court.
He also said that Drost presented medical marijuana cards for a legal
number of plants, which should have protected him from arrest or
prosecution, according to the law. The deputies failed to mention to
Fareena that Drost was a caregiver and had shown them the cards.
Jarema said in an interview that deputies did not need a search warrant
because they spotted marijuana from the helicopter, and had no way of
knowing that Drost was a legal caregiver until he presented his
state-approved cards once they were on the property. At that point, they
could see a marijuana plant sticking out between the six-foot fence and
hoop house.
        Both Jarema and Williams said after the trial that they felt the
resolution of the case was fair based on the facts.
Drost was grateful. “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” he said, just
before leaving the courthouse. “It’s been a bunch of crap for
everybody—family and friends.”


 
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