Charmie Gholson in the July 1, 2010 Midwest Cultivator writes about Ed Boyke, a patient diagnosed by the Mayo Clinic with severe sciatica and in possession of a physician’s recommendation for medical marijuana in Michigan:
On April 15, Boyke stepped outside of his Saginaw Township home and was surrounded by Saginaw County Sheriff’s deputies and U.S. DEA Agents. With weapons drawn, they served Boyke with a federal warrant to search his residence, based on confidential information that he had violated marijuana laws. They handcuffed Boyke while they executed the warrant.
The DEA agents surveyed his home, said they wouldn’t pursue the case and left. The Saginaw County sheriffs department stayed to “see if he’d broken any state laws,” and according to Boyke, “started tearing the place apart.” They smashed his grow operation and a humidifier, dumped out dresser drawers and emptied closets in two rooms. They taunted him about who he voted for in the last presidential election.
When they left, they took two lawn mowers, a leaf blower, an air compressor and generator from his garage, his 2008 Chevy Impala, $62 from his wallet, his marijuana plants, hunting rifles and ammo, his harvested marijuana, Boyke’s medical marijuana card and paperwork, a generator, a paint sprayer, a dehumidifier, growing apparatuses, scales and a 42-inch Panasonic TV. “They asked me for the key to my girlfriend’s car too, but I didn’t have it,” he says. “They told me I was lucky ‘cause they would have taken that too.”
The deputies returned the next day and asked Boyke how much money he had.
“When they came back the next day threatening to take a lien on my house, I called this one lawyer, Tom Frank in Saginaw and asked him about the $5,000 they wanted from me. He said, ‘I’ll run over and talk to them.’” Boyke said Frank didn’t call him back; instead the detectives called and asked if he had the money. “I was worried because they were threatening to take my house,” he says. “That Sheriff said ‘Make sure it’s cash, then we’ll bring your stuff back.’”
Boyke gave them $5,000 in cash, and they returned his car, the lawn mowers, leaf blower and air compressor but they didn’t return his TV or rifles. He says everything except the car was old junk from the garage. One of the rifles, however, was a present and heirloom. Boyke’s wife passed away at the age of 36 and the rifle had been a gift from her father. He says he pleaded with the department to return, “ just that rifle, but they told me, ‘your guns are gone.’”
Boyke’s claim for the return of his guns and $5,000 bond was denied because he missed the 20 day deadline for filing a claim against the civil forfeiture (partially because the attorney that he contacted to represent him did not inform Boyke that there was a deadline to file a claim). The Saginaw police claimed that Boyke’s payment of the $5,000 also constituted a waiver of his right to file a claim challenging the forfeiture, and kept the $5,000 for themselves.
Gholson also provides this chart (worth the clickthrough) that describes howMichigan’s local police agencies and multi-jurisdictional drug task forces spend their forfeiture money. It is interesting that local police agencies spend 11% of their forfeiture funding on equipment as opposed to the multi-jurisdictional drug task forces, who spend 51% of their forfeiture money on equipment, some of which is repurposed military equipment from the Department of Defense.
The core issue, of course, is that there is no incentive for Michigan’s law enforcement to enforce Michigan’s laws with courtesy and respect for citizens; rather, these agencies are more interested in the money and property they can seize (extort) from law-abiding citizens.