A couple from southwest Michigan is suing the Michigan State Police after they were arrested and detained for possessing medical cannabis. And according to Iesha and Anthony Williams, they have been wrongly arrested twice.
The Williamses, who live in Kalamazoo, have been stopped in Lancing on Nov. 30, 2016, a couple of times. In their lawsuit, the Williamses allege that they were subjected to an unlawful search, unlawful seizure of cash, and false arrest.
According to the police report, Michigan State Police Trooper James Moots stopped the Williamses and Del Morgan at 9:13 in the morning for having two necklaces and six air fresheners hanging from their rearview mirror. Moots smelled pot and asked if anyone in the car had a medical cannabis license.
In his report, Moots noted that nobody spoke up and answered his question. However, Iesha and Anthony Williams said in their complaint that they told the officers they had a license at the start of the traffic stop.
The police trooper first interviewed Iesha, followed by Anthony. Moots patted Anthony down, placed handcuffs on him, and led him to the back of the squad car. The Williamses were not released until 10:30 a.m.
The Williamses said in their lawsuit that Moots did not have probable cause or consent to search Anthony.
Moots confiscated the cash that was in Anthony’s pockets, which totaled to around $35,000. The police then contacted Tri-County Metro Narcotics and requested them to do a surveillance on the couple. There was no citation written.
Undercover officers tailed the Williamses for three hours as they made stops at four medical cannabis dispensaries, as well as Auto Zone, Big Lots, and O’Reilly’s Autoparts. According to the state police, they ordered for a surveillance to be conducted because of the discrepancies in Iesha’s and Anthony’s statements with regard to the source of the cash they had with them.
The under officers pulled the Williamses’ car over at 1:30 p.m. The reason: failing to yield to a yellow light and making a lane without signaling.
The police wrote in their report that the Williamses and Morgan told the officers that they had just been to medical cannabis dispensaries, which is why the car smelled like pot. Anthony further told officers that he was a caregiver and that he had a card inside his wallet.
All three of them were then arrested and taken to the MSP Lansing Post for questioning. Their vehicle, meanwhile, was towed.
According to the police, they seized 20.8 ounces of weed, a toolbox where the marijuana was kept, mobile phones, and more than $30,000. They said that they confiscated the items because of the discrepancies regarding the money and the purchase of medical marijuana in illegal amounts.
Cardholders in Michigan are allowed by law to possess only 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis each. Caregivers, on the other hand, can possess 2.5 ounces for each medical cannabis patient under their care.
The Williamses and Morgan were arrested in June 2017 for possession with intent to deliver cannabis.
In an e-mail to Ingham County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ayanna Neal, the Williamses’ attorney, Nicholas Bostic, wrote that there were multiple discovery violations in the case. According to him, he had a proposed complaint on a civil rights violation, which he plans to file in federal court against the police officers.
Bostic asked Neal to drop the criminal charges against the Williamses, to dismiss the forfeiture complaint with prejudice, to refund the cash seized, and to return the vehicle, which remains impounded almost two years later.
The civil forfeiture case is pending with the Ingham County.
The criminal charges, meanwhile, no longer appear in the county court system. Neal pointed out that these charges were subjected to a resolution but because they are now a non-public case, she cannot comment further.
The Williamses are seeking at least $500,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.