Drug charges dismissed

Drug charges against a Grand Haven man have been dismissed — but authorities say that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s in the clear, or that he’ll be able to get his confiscated property back.
Becky Vargo
Oct 24, 2013


Douglas Harjer, 63, was one of 27 West Michigan residents rounded up in a drug bust last week and charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. His truck, trailer and cellphone were among the items confiscated by police.

Harjer was arrested in Traverse City on Oct. 17. He owns a second home in Traverse City.

Charges against all 27 people in the sweep were dismissed Tuesday in U.S. District Court at the prosecutor’s request.

Download the RELATED FILES (PDFs) below this story to read the original complaint and motion to dismiss the cases.

Harjer returned a telephone call to the Tribune, but referred to his attorney.

“I was directed not to say a word,” he said.

“The case was dismissed because there is too much material to get through in order to have the case ready for Grand Jury review within the required 30 days,” said Daniel Grow, a St. Joseph attorney retained by Harjer. “The reality is that the federal prosecutor hasn’t abandoned this case. There will be charges again against some or all of the people who were originally charged.”

Grow said his client is someone who was trying to comply with Michigan law. He said the number of plants Harjer had was within the limits allowed by state law.

“Doug is a patient and a caregiver,” the attorney said. “He definitely has a qualifying condition.”

Grow noted that Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed the medical marijuana law, and that most people involved in medical marijuana try to do a good job in following the law.

However, Grow said he has concerns with the case because, “in federal courts, the judges have not been recognizing the Michigan Medical Marijuana Law as a defense.”

Last week's drug bust was a result of an investigation that started in August 2012 into a drug trafficking and money-laundering organization operating in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Grand Traverse and Oceana counties, according to the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. The organization, identified as the Medical Marijuana Team, or MMT, “prides itself on providing high-grade marijuana that sells for $2,800 to $3,200 per pound,” according to the complaint.

The complaint noted that the MMT members pretended to follow the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, but instead they were using that as a ruse in order to make money by selling pot.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



The attorney's name is Grow? You can't make this stuff up!


Yeah - either this is a bud of Mr. Harjer, or he was picked based on the name - otherwise, why get your supply (of legal representation) from all the way down in St. Joe?




He picked him probably because there are only a few attorney's in the state that specialize in medical marijuana cases.


well, there you go. Now we know the real story here. probably.


I don't get it, where is the pun?


Grow; growing plants, as in growing Mary Jane, as in the attorney's name is Grow too; yikes.


No, yours was great, that one I got... I was attempting to make a joke about lakeshore's more legitimate comment.

You may have noticed that I couldn't resist planting a few in my earlier comment as well.


I did, "bud" and "picking", "supply", and now "planting", such a sly dog. Sorry, didn't mean to get in the middle of what might be a good back and forth with lakeshore.

Maybe he was attempting to say there are only a few legal representatives for this specific issue, he probably had to smoke them out and this Grow person was probably high on the list.


Ok, I think you win this round!


I'm so glad someone is noticing these names in the media as they relate to the stories. Like one guy who drowned in Lake Michigan - his last name? Seagraves. The child molester in Grand Rapids who messed with about 75 kids - his last name" Coddling. How about the female teacher in Grand Rapids - her middle name? Love. The pizza manager who kidnapped two boys - his name? Hornstra. The Klan killings in 1960's One guy his last name was Killen and his helper was named Lynch. America's most wanted predator last name - Lovechild. And then New York a guy named Buddafuecko A prison beating article. The arsenal seargent's last name was- War. His helpers last name was Cells. The inmate who got brutalized his last name - Makepeace. So the story read "did sergeant War and Cells use to much force on inmate Makepeace. No this stuff is not made up! Last name of Grow will be added to my list.


You forgot those killers of the American middle class. They are a couple of Kochs.


Funny, but what isn't funny is the huge waste of time, money and effort made here by "law enforcement." Who the heck was in charge here? All 27 defendants had their charges dismissed? Give them their belongings back and get it right or leave them alone. Over a year of investigating and planning and "poof!" Pfhht!

Mystic Michael

As a practical matter, the feds have really got to draw a long-overdue line in the sand - and encourage the states to do likewise: From henceforth, cannabis is officially decriminalized, so that law enforcement resources can be redirected toward the truly dangerous substances: crystal meth, krokodil, and narcotics in general.


MM, do you find local NY law enforcement chasing their tails around over this issue?

One of the very nice things about the e-paper in my opinion is that we have people reading this from around the world. I don't really care to know who everybody is but knowing and identifying where they are is helpful in many ways. Many people post but don't live here, others can share about the same issues we face but from their local perspective.

Most people are aware that if you click on their “handle” it shows how long they have been a forum member. I propose that it also informs where the person currently resides; this might truly explain some of the comments we get. For example, if MM were to spend a lot of time commenting on the current local traffic congestion I may not take his rant to heart; he doesn’t live here.

Fine, I'll start this off and hopefully other "regular" contributors to this forum will follow the lead.

rukidding - currently residing in Spring Lake Township


Watchingyou - Spring Lake Township

Although it wouldn't bother me one way or another if it is Legalized, the feds are still going to make it a pain in the arsh. A completely law abiding cigarette smoker is treated like a criminal for doing something that is completely legal. Unless you are in a public area within a certain distance of a door, window, or vent. Does anyone actually think that if Marijuana is decriminalized that it will be allowed anywhere outside the confines of their own home? And if you do use it in your home and there are minors there, I would bet that Child Services would be involved very quickly. It obviously doesn't matter to Big Brother what the States People voted for, they know best as far as they are concerned.


Thanks neighbor -

No doubt there will be issues but I really feel most people are tired of the expense and hypocrisy this issue represents; this is not unlike prohibition, the higher percentage of Americans have had it with this and at least want decimalization. I’ve had it with law enforcement and the expense of chasing marijuana, and our tax dollars paying for incarceration for offenders who are not a threat to the general public.


Marijuana laws are big business; they continue because they are cash cows for many US groups and industries -

Last year, over 850,000 people in America were arrested for marijuana-related crimes. Despite public opinion, the medical community, and human rights experts all moving in favor of relaxing marijuana prohibition laws, little has changed in terms of policy. - See more at: http://www.republicreport.org/20...

The prisons are overflowing with people imprisoned on drug charges - and the police unions, private prison corporations, alcohol/beer companies, and prison guard unions want to keep it that way - job security!


Very true. Any cost, wasteful or not, has a beneficient!

Mystic Michael

Absolutely correct. Most citizens have no idea what a huge business the private prison industry has become (although I believe there was a recent Tribune editorial that expressed support for them).

Any time you privatize an essential public function - without doubling down accordingly on public oversight, you run the risk that the corporation in question will behave the way that corporations usually behave: They operate their facilities so as to maximize their own profit - with little to no regard for any other factors. This has led directly to many of the Soviet gulag-style horrors that have begun to bubble up to public awareness - which almost certainly represent just the tip of the iceberg.


When you have a corporation such as the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) that lobbies state & federal governments for stricter, harsher laws & sentences purely so that they can take advantage of the resulting financial windfall, you have a direct conflict of interest between the public good and private profit - and a recipe for human rights disaster.

Mystic Michael

In the state of New York, weed has been officially decriminalized for years - with the threshold being something like an ounce or less for personal consumption. But here in NYC, the police still behave as if the law had never changed.

You may have heard something in the news about the NYPD's "stop and frisk" policy. While it's no longer illegal to possess small amounts of marijuana, it is illegal to use it or display openly in public view. So the cops routinely abuse the spirit of the law, and often the letter of the law as well, as a pretext for shaking down the black and brown people, usually teens & young adults. Basically the cops harass them by stopping them on the streets, usually without any probable cause, then demand that they empty their pockets. If they find weed, the person goes to jail. If they don't find weed, sometimes they even plant the weed, i.e. drop a bag on the sidewalk, then exclaim something like, "Hey, look at what you just dropped!"

It's all blatantly illegal, but it's nearly impossible to make it stop when the mayor and the police commissioner either look the other way, or claim that it's a valid & valuable law enforcement tool. Likewise, many of the victims are unaware of their legal rights, so they don't fight it. Either that, or they're afraid that standing up for themselves will elicit brutal retribution later on. (Lord, protect us from the thugs who are supposed to protect us from the thugs!)

Studies have proven the policy to be highly ineffective: of the thousands illegally detained every year, no more than about two to three percent are ever found to be carrying weapons and/or to be the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant. Not long ago, a federal judge ruled the policy unconstitutional, and ordered the city to stop using it. Mayor Bloomberg and PC Kelly screamed and cried like babies, but to my knowledge it hasn't completely stopped even yet.

You may have heard that we'll be getting a new mayor very soon - Bill de Blasio. He'll be putting a stop to it - once and for all.


Thanks for the view out of someone else's window; the grass does appear to be greener in the Tri-Cities area.


LessThanAmused = poor side of Grand Haven.

I don't drink, or do drugs, other than a BP and a Thyroid med so I need legalized pot so I have some way to alter (and raise at times) my state of consciousness.
seriously, too much ado about nothing. Let's legalize it cuz really....anyone that smokes has little to no trouble finding it now and those fearful of it won't start simply because it's legal, so the only real benefit of the change would be the taxing issue. Legalize it already and have the cops spend their time on REAL crime. It's been 6 months since Jessica went missing....where are we on that? Leave my medicinal brownies alone and go find her.....ok?


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