Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette took another slap Monday at Michigan’s medical pot industry, when — at the urging of Secretary of State Ruth Johnson — he charged the owner of a Lansing medical marijuana dispensary with violating election law for offering free pot to customers who registered to vote.
Shekina Pena, 34, owner of Your Healthy Choice in Lansing, was released on $3,500 personal bond after her arraignment in Lansing District Court on Monday. The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
According to Schuette, Pena allegedly offered to help people fill out voter register forms in exchange for free pot to its customers who are registered among the state’s 100,000 certified medical marijuana users. Schuette said Pena encouraged clients to support a slate of candidates for the Lansing City Council who were supportive of medical marijuana laws.
Pena did not return phone calls but she posted on the clinic’s Facebook page, “Your Healthy Choice has not and will not compensate ANYONE to vote nor will we compensate ANYONE for voting for a particular candidate. ANYONE who says or implies that we are compensating people for a vote is dishonest and shameless. Your Healthy Choice and the Greater Lansing Medical Marijuana Association is conducting a Voter Registration Drive, just like other organizations.”
Schuette has called for legislation to toughen the medical marijuana rules and has lobbied for a ruling to make medical marijuana dispensaries illegal. The Court of Appeals agreed with that position in a ruling last month.
“Voters did not intend for marijuana to be handed out as a door prize, especially when it undermines the integrity of our elections,” Schuette said in a statement.
“This goes beyond election shenanigans,” Johnson said in a statement. “They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Last week, more than 1,000 people gathered on the steps and lawn of the state Capitol to support medical marijuana laws, noting it was approved by Michigan voters in 2008 with 63% of the vote.
Matthew Abel, a Detroit attorney and senior partner of Cannabis Counsel, said Schuette is making too much of the Lansing case.
“She’s an outspoken activist who is on the other side of the issue from Bill Schuette,” Abel said. “He thinks marijuana has no medical value. And that completely ignores the needs of the patient.”
– Article from The Detroit Free Press