By Rick Thompson, The Compassion Chronicles
LAPEER- Much of the money allocated to law enforcement in 2015 from the Michigan Medical Marihuana Fund went unused, a governmental report shows, and those funds that were spent were used for questionable purposes.
Legislation passed in 2013 (HB 5313) and signed into law in 2014 by Governor Snyder allowed money from the state’s Medical Marihuana Fund (the Fund) to be used by local units of law enforcement “for the operation and oversight of the Michigan medical marihuana program… operation and oversight grants are for education, communication and enforcement of the Michigan medical marihuana act…”
The Fund is created by the fees paid to the state when patients and caregivers register to enroll in the medical marijuana program. The Fund has been building since the Act first came into effect in 2009; the legislature’s granting these dollars to police agencies was not supported by Michigan’s patient population.
$3 million was available to County Sheriff departments across the state; only $167, 038 was awarded (5.6%) and only $116,090 was actually spent (3.9% of all funds available). Of the 83 counties in the state only 4 applied for and were approved to receive the grants. The Macomb County Sheriff Department used only 57.5% of the money they requested; the Lapeer County Sheriff Department used just 54% of their allocation.
Sanilac County used all of the money allocated to their Sheriff Department, and St. Clair County Sheriffs used 85% of their grant money.
The report was issued on September 25, 2015.
The allocation is outlined in Public Act 252 of 2014 and allowed for a maximum award of $3 million, disbursed based on the percentage of registered medical marijuana patients residing in each county.
The four county agencies which applied for and received grants:
• Macomb County Sheriff’s Office $63,198.00
• Sanilac County Sheriff’s Office $18,484.00
• Lapeer County Sheriff’s office $36,439.00
• St. Clair County Sheriff’s office $48,917.00
According to their final reports, each agency expended the following amounts:
• Macomb County Sheriff’s Office $36,322.60
• Sanilac County Sheriff’s Office $18,483.94
• Lapeer County Sheriff’s office $19,543.40
• St. Clair County Sheriff’s office $41,740.05
MACOMB- Macomb County officials blamed their failure to spend the full amount allocated by the state on a short (six month) reporting period.
Members of the Macomb County Sheriff Enforcement Team (SET) received the funds allocated to their Department but “did not have the opportunity to attend training,” their report reveals.
During the six month reporting period beginning March 21 the SET admits to spending a total of 72 man hours investigating issues involving MMP participants and 8 hours of public education. For those 80 hours the department billed the state at $39/hr for lost wages, a total of $3,111.
Even though they spent a tiny amount of their time investigating issues involving the MMP, Macomb County cited “a need to purchase a truck and a trailer to assist in those investigations.” They spent $33,000 of MMP funds on a 2015 Dodge Durango and an Interstate trailer.
SANILAC- Sanilac County Drug Task Force originally intended to use the funds given to them by the state to pay salaries; buy I-Pads; pay for Internet fees; provide “funding for flyovers for illegal marijuana grow operations covering large areas of state owned land in Sanilac County”; and the purchase of Tasers for officers.
They didn’t have time to do the flyovers, so they reallocated the funds to buy a utility trailer to transport 4-wheelers; dress clothing for officers to wear while making presentations to the public; and rugged clothing to wear while on raids or investigations.
In the future their grant details may include more cash for officers. “Continued use of salary funding may have to include an overtime rate,” according to the Drug Task Force. They spent $3,500 on wages, almost the same as Macomb County, during the six month grant period.
They also spent $4,770 on I-Pads, $5407 on Tasers, $3500 on the utility trailer and another $500 to outfit their existing vehicles with hitches and wiring to haul it. $307 was spent on uniform shirts and jackets for their presentation team.
LAPEER- The Lapeer boys like to soak the state for wage money, it seems. 86% of the grant money used by the Lapeer County Sheriff Department was used to pay wages ($16,845), and a paltry $2,700 was spent on storage of supplies and evidence. No details, no itemized reporting, no description of activities.
The letter from this Department is the least professional of the four submitted. The report from the office of Ron Kalanquin contains punctuation and grammatical errors. One has to assume the Sheriff authored the letter himself, since it is the only one without a professional signature and attestation.
ST. CLAIR- The St. Clair County Drug Task Force is the only one of the four grant winners whose officers actually attended classes to educate themselves about medical marijuana.
Sheriff Department employees “did attend a much-needed 3 day training in Lansing regarding medical marijuana grow operations,” per the report filed by their office. Lansing is the state Capital and houses the State Police headquarters.
81% of the grant money spent by the Drug Task Force ($33,736) went to pay salaries and wages. They bought a trailer, too, and spent $1124 on storage of supplies and evidence.
Although St. Clair’s report mentions an Operation Flyover, no funds from the grant were spent on helicopter fees, per the document.