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Medical Marijuana Gets Huge Boost in Waterford & Clarkston

Clarkston Legal April 17, 2012

Here is a post from renowned criminal defense attorney Neil Rockind. Apparently, Neil’s big marijuana case resulted in all charges being dismissed yesterday by Oakland Circuit Judge Daniel O’Brien. Along with some other local “heavy hitters” from the criminal defense bar, this group of defense attorneys challenged prosecutions of dispensary owners.

Here is Neil’s take on this significant development in the medical marijuana jurisprudence:

Twenty-four hours ago, I was sitting at my desk ruminating over the Hon. Daniel O’Brien’s ruling: the ruling that gave the seven (7) Clinical Relief Medical Marijuana defendants their freedom back. I am still thinking about the ruling today. How did we get here? What happened? It is much easier to contemplate these things knowing that we prevailed and that justice was done. When the case was dismissed, I knew that it was a big deal but a day, an overwhelming number of media requests and hundreds upon hundreds of supportive comments later, I now know that this was a REALLY, REALLY BIG DEAL!

On August 25, 2010, employees and operators were subjected to a narcotics team – Special Response Team Raid. The feeling of terror was only intensified by the employees feelings of betrayal and humiliation when they discovered that some of their patients were actually undercover police officers. Here the employees thought that they were helping these patients and instead learned that the police officers had duped them. They later learned even more: the officers had forged medical marijuana patient cards with the knowledge of at least one prosecutor, gained access to the facility by pretending to be patients and signed attestations claiming to be patients who suffered from a debilitating illness. Our clients tried to help these people just as they tried to help and assist thousands of others. As it turns out, the only time our clients provided marijuana to people who were not patients was when they provided it to undercover officers pretending to be patients. The irony is still not lost on me.

The Clinical Relief employees should never have been charged. Period. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it and while they are free today, it took nearly 2 years of litigation to do it. Unfortunately, the fight for justice was not without casualties.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Sal Agro. Sal Agro was Nick Agro and Anthony Agro’s father. He was Barb Agro’s husband of many years. By all accounts, the Agro family was a strong, traditional story. Sal worked for a local school. Barb Agro worked for a local police department. Shortly after the raids, arrests and detentions of his family, Sal Agro was hospitalized. He died a few days later …. his final days no doubt spent worrying about his family.

There were other casualties and other painful moments. One I’ll never forget…the face of a scared wife. Anthony Agro, another defendant in the case, is married to a beautiful woman. In better times, I imagine them out with friends on a Saturday night…an attractive couple with few worries. I didn’t meet them in that environment. My first contact with Agro’s wife was in a courtroom — her husband facing prison. The look on her face said it all: stress, fear and worry. I imagine it is the look of someone waiting in a waiting room as a loved one is in a risky surgery.

I learned a great deal about myself during this case. But I learned a lot about others too.
I discovered that my fellow lawyers, eg, Jerry Sabbota, Steve Fishman, Cheryl Carpenter, Tom Loeb and others, are powerful and committed advocates. Being a part of this team was an incredible experience. Scary is the fact that it took all of us, and our appellate expert, Stuart Friedman, to prevail. It should not take so much firepower to overcome the government but it does. Our fight in which we have maintained the same mantra — our clients relied on the statute — only to he heard 2 years later is a testament to how the government will not listen to reason.
In the end, as is the case so often in life, it came down to our audience. The Hon Daniel Obrien revealed his courage. He patiently listened to us. He patiently listened to the prosecutors. He gave them every opportunity to make their case. In the end, they could not and when there was nothing else to say, he said it all: “case dismissed”.

Way to go guys.

Neil is passionate about this subject and a master of his craft. An effective advocate and criminal defense lawyer, Neil does not care about the issue that this blog has seized upon in our critique of the MMMA: that many card holders -patients- are inflating their condition and simply using marijuana for recreational purposes.

Neil’s take is that when people comply with the law, and receive a legitimate certification from the state, they should not be prosecuted based on the political views of the local prosecutor. He makes a very good point folks.