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Mistake in news report causes distress among Livingston County medical marijuana users

Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio
Howell resident Shannon Trittschler and her husband.

A mistake in a newspaper report brought frightened medical marijuana users to the Livingston County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night.

The report wrongly said sheriffs are planning to use a state grant for unannounced spot checks at patients' homes.

Because of the stigma of being a medical marijuana user, many people who spoke at the meeting would identify themselves only by first name, like Denise from Hartland.

She says spot checks of patients violate the Fourth Amendment, "our right to not being searched and seized in our own homes."

Other speakers talked poignantly of the difference medical marijuana has made in their lives.  Shannon Trittschler says she was diagnosed with Stage IVb ovarian cancer in 2015. 

"I am prescribed 45 mg of morphine, three times a day," said Trittschler. "Oxycontin, Percocet, every four to six hours. If I did that, I would not be able to function. I would look like a complete drug addict in front of my children, and could not make a sandwich. So for someone to come in and invade my privacy, it's not OK with me."

It turns out the sheriff only intend spot checks on businesses that distribute medical marijuana.

But the grant budget also anticipated spending about $38,000 for enforcement and surveillance equipment, including  a trailer to haul contraband away, portable radios, a portable fingerprint scanner, night vision equipment, and Tasers.

The sheriff's department is now backing off on the Tasers; it say it's open to discussing with the public other ways to use the grant. Livingston County at this point has no medical marijuana dispensaries; sheriff's department officials say they want to be proactive rather than reactive, in case the dispensaries and their anticipated problems do arrive.

The grant also anticipated spending about $2,000 for public education on medical marijuana laws.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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