State Briefs

Associated Press • Oct 31, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Schuette cancels TV ads in all markets except Detroit 

LANSING (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette on Tuesday canceled TV ads across Michigan in the final week of the race, except in the Detroit market — another sign that his campaign was facing an uphill climb to defeat Democrat Gretchen Whitmer.

The state attorney general nixed all $445,000 worth of broadcast ads in the Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing, Traverse City and Marquette markets. A $441,000 buy in metro Detroit, the state's largest market, was kept intact.

"We don't comment on ad strategy, but everyone knows this race is closing," said Schuette spokesman Stu Sandler, noting the comeback victories in Michigan for Donald Trump in 2016 and John Engler in 1990 in their runs for president and governor.

Said Whitmer spokesman Zack Pohl: "Even Bill Schuette is joining Michigan voters in abandoning the Schuette campaign."

The Michigan Republican Party was still airing ads for Schuette around the state, but his cancellation of ads exacerbated the advantage that Whitmer and aligned groups have had over Schuette and his allies on the airwaves.

A poll released Monday by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV showed Whitmer — a former legislative leader — leading 50 percent to 38 percent, with 9 percent undecided. The survey of 600 likely voters, which was conducted Thursday through Saturday, had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The Glengariff Group poll results were little changed from a poll the media outlets had done about a month before.

Whitmer has raised more money and spent more than Schuette. She spent $4.6 million to his $2.9 million between the August primary and Oct. 20 — about what they collected in that period, though Schuette loaned his campaign $325,000. Whitmer had raised $12 million for the cycle, Schuette more than $8 million. She also had more cash on hand for the closing stretch.

"Polls come and go, but we cannot focus on that. We can't get complacent. We've got serious work to do, and every one of us has a stake in this election. I want people to get out there and vote," Whitmer said earlier Tuesday, before news of the ad cancellation. She spoke in Lansing while launching a weeklong bus tour that her campaign said would include at least 70 stops between herself and running mate Garlin Gilchrist II.

Only marijuana dispensary in Kalamazoo County may be forced to close

PORTAGE (AP) — Lake Effect, the only retail location in Kalamazoo County where medical marijuana patients can legally buy their medicine, is preparing for the possibility it will have to close, though a judge's order will allow them to stay open through Nov. 9.

The dispensary at 8314 Portage Road in Portage was given notice on Sept. 10 that its application to continue operating was denied by the state's Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Board, according to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

The business planned to close on the state-imposed deadline of Wednesday, Oct. 31, Lake Effect Owner Jevin Weyenberg said.

However, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Stephen Borello's Oct. 30 order means the business and other dispensaries can now remain open through Nov. 9, when a hearing is scheduled for a hearing related to the temporary restraining order, Weyenberg said.

The judge issued the order in a case involving another marijuana business.

Lake Effect, the only marijuana dispensary in Kalamazoo County, has appealed the state's prequalification denial by requesting an investigative hearing, though LARA had not received a notice yet from the Michigan Administrative Hearing System that there is a scheduled hearing date, spokesman David Harns said on Oct. 30.

Before the judge's order, Harns said any temporary operation after Oct. 31, 2018, would be considered unlicensed activity and may result in a referral to law enforcement, the Michigan State Police and/or the Department of Attorney General.

LARA is reviewing the judge's order, Harns said on Oct. 30.

The order allows dispensaries operating without a state license, as required under the updated rules, to operate through Nov. 9, Weyenberg said. Denise A. Pollicella, a founder and managing partner of Cannabis Attorneys of Michigan, confirmed that the temporary restraining order means the state cannot set any deadline for dispensaries to close, and that the issue will be brought before at a Nov. 9 hearing.

Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Weyenberg to the state's Marihuana Advisory Panel, which can make recommendations about how the state runs the medical marijuana system.

The panel met Tuesday, Oct. 30. Before the meeting, Weyenberg said he planned to "hold the state accountable for the lack of patient care" during the meeting.

"When there is not a system in place to support the medical requirements of 300,000 people, then 300,000 people or part of that group lose access to medicine," he said after the hearing. "It's pretty cut and dry."

Elizabeth Ouding, 51, of Kalamazoo, said she had six back surgeries over two years because of scoliosis in her back. Doctors prescribed her pain pills and she took them for about a year, she said, but she did not like the side effects.

A few years ago, she walked into Lake Effect and met Weyenberg. He told her about medical marijuana and after she obtained a state-issued card, she said.

She has been using a topical cream every day since then that immediately helps her pain and allows her to get around better, she said.

"I don't have to take opioids because of it," Ouding said.

The next closest dispensary is in Breedsville, which is about 45 minutes away or more than twice as far as Lake Effect is from her home, she said. Ouding said she doesn't know if she can make the drive because of the cost of gas and because she has trouble holding up her arms to drive that long.

She fears that she will have to seek out another kind of painkiller from a doctor to address her pain if Lake Effect is forced to close. Ouding calls Weyenberg a lifesaver.

In September, Lake Effect's prequalification application was "denied under section 402(3)(a) of the Act," LARA said in a statement. The section of the law allows the board to consider "the integrity, moral character, and reputation of the applicant" when considering a license application, LARA said.

The Medical Marihuana Licensing Board discussed the case before voting to deny the application. A member of the board alleged the business participates in the recreational market, noting that Lake Effect won an award from High Times' Cannabis Cup in June 2018.

Weyenberg disagrees with the suggestion his store participates in the recreational market.

A member of the board also mentioned a lawsuit against Lake Effect, which had been dismissed by the plaintiff before the denial was issued.

Lake Effect is among a group of dispensaries in the state that could be forced to close, depending on the outcome of the Nov. 9 hearing.

The timing of the state's possible shutdowns coincide with several other important milestones for marijuana in Michigan. grandhaventribune.com

It comes soon after Oct. 25, when the first marijuana that was grown, transported and sold in facilities that are approved under the state's updated medical marijuana rules.

"That's great and it shows the baby steps the state is taking," Weyenberg said. "But baby steps don't do much for people looking for lab-tested medication."

On Nov. 6, voters will go to the polls and decide whether or not recreational marijuana use will be legal for everyone 21 and over.

Lake Effect is the only existing dispensary in Kalamazoo County. Some other medical marijuana facilities are in the process of obtaining approval from the state, including at least one dispensary that was granted a license in October.

"The state argues they want everybody in the registered system," Weyenberg said. "It's just very slow." 

State pays $155,000 to Calhoun County man wrongly jailed

ALBION (AP) — The state of Michigan has agreed to pay $155,000 to settle a lawsuit by a man who spent a weekend in jail. The problem: State police had arrested the wrong guy.

Billy Rowe of Calhoun County was arrested on child pornography charges in 2011. But he was the wrong Rowe. The real suspect had the same first name and last name but a different middle name. He also lived 120 miles away.

WOOD-TV says the settlement was disclosed in documents obtained through a public records request.

The wrong Rowe was released after three days in jail, but he says he had to ride 100 miles home with his hands cuffed behind him.

The attorney general's office fought the lawsuit, but lost key procedural decisions.


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