St. Clair County Circuit Judge Cynthia A. Lane has dismissed all criminal charges filed by Michigan’s Attorney General against six individuals for their association with Blue Water Compassion Centers back in 2011. In November of 2012, the AG’s office initiated criminal charges against the Blue Water colleagues, which included multiple allegations of conducting a criminal enterprise, possession with intent to deliver marihuana and conspiracy.
Judge Lane’s July 30 opinion summarized the facts of the case as follows: “This case involves a multi-count complaint against defendants Debra Amsdill, Doug Amsdill, James Amsdill, Amanda Amsdill, Mark Sochacki, and Terra Sochacki involving the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (“MMMA”). The charges are premised on the defendants’ alleged involvement in and activity at the Blue Water Compassion Center[s]… During the course of an investigation led by the Michigan State Police in late 2011, an undercover Michigan State Police officer visited the Kimball Township Compassion Center on December 5, 2011 and acquired marihuana from Defendants Mark and Terra Sochacki. Money changed hands in the transaction… On June 10, 2013, defense counsel for defendants Debra and Amanda Amsdill filed a Motion to Dismiss, claiming insufficient notice and ex post facto prosecution, arguing that, at the time of the alleged unlawful conduct, caregiver-to-patient transfers of marihuana for a price were protected by the plain language of MCL 333.26424(e)… On February 8, 2013 the Michigan Supreme Court, in People v McQueen, 493 Mich. 135 (2013), held that individuals who sell, transfer, or deliver marihuana to another person without being connected through the State registry (pursuant to MCL 333.26424(b)) are not entitled to the immunities set forth in that sub-section, and are therefore in violation of the Public Health Code, MCL 333.7104. (McQueen involved a nuisance claim). It further held that the registry requirements of subsection (b) also apply to caregiver-to-patient transfers of marihuana covered by MCL 333.26424(e). McQueen was decided after these Defendants were bound over to Circuit Court for trial… The remaining defendants have joined defendant Debra and Amanda Amsdill’s Motion to Dismiss. The Attorney General filed its Response to this Motion on June 28, 2013. The Court heard oral arguments on July 12, 2013 and took the matter under advisement.”
In the portion of her July 30 order entitled “OPINION AND DECISION,” Judge Lane held that: “All of the Defendants are qualifying patients and/or registered primary caregivers under the MMMA. They are alleged to have conspired to aid and/or to have made possible the transfer of marihuana to qualifying patients with whom they were not connected through the State registry pursuant to MCL 333.26424(b), as required by McQueen. For the reasons stated in this Opinion and Decision, the Court finds that applying McQueen’s interpretation of the MMMA retroactively to these defendants and subjecting them to criminal liability because they did not meet that requirements of MCL 333.26224(b), operates as an an ex post facto law, in violation due process under the Constitution of the State of Michigan and of the United States… Here, the critical question is whether Defendants, at the time they committed the alleged acts in 2011, were placed on notice that those actions were illegal and would be subject to criminal prosecution. In the judgment of this Court, they were not. Although the MMMA does not impose criminal sanctions, failure to meet its requirements may, and likely will, result in the filing of criminal charges against non-complying persons… Having reviewed the MMMA, the Court concludes that a person of ordinary intelligence would not have concluded, prior to McQueen, that the MMMA required a registered qualifying patient and a registered primary caregiver (as they are referenced under MCL 333.26424(e)) to be connected through the State’s registration process, in order for the caregiver to assist the patient and receive compensation. A person of ordinary intelligence could reasonably assume that, had the Legislature intended the registry requirements of MCL 333.26424(b) to apply to subsection (e), this would have been stated more clearly than it was. Defendants could not have been on notice that the Michigan Supreme Court would interpret the MMMA as it did. Its holding was not foreseeable.”
The Times Herald reported on Dec. 29, 2011 that: “The Thumb Narcotics Unit, Michigan State Police, Flint Area Narcotics Group, Denmark Township Police Department and Tuscola County Sheriff Department participated in the searches. The St. Clair County Drug Task Force assisted during the raid at the Kimball Township center.” The Times Herald also reported on Jan. 23, 2012 that: “The raids were part of a yearlong investigation into violations of Michigan’s Controlled Substances Act, assisted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.”
The Blue Water Compassion Center defendants were represented by defense attorneys Matthew Newburg, of Grand Ledge, Paul Tylenda, of Grosse Pointe Park, and Scott Moeller, of Fort Gratiot.