Drug charges dismissed

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:22 PM

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.

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