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The crusade against medical pot continues in Michigan. In July, police raided four marijuana grow sites in Muskegon, Mich., and arrested a prominent MMJ advocate.

Michigan MarijuanaNine people were arrested and face drug-related charges. That includes Derek Antol, whose smoke shop was a target. Antol now faces up to life in prison while the other defendants could be jailed for up to four years.

Police busted Antol’s shop, Deuces Wild, and said they found evidence Antol was growing weed and selling it out of the shop. Medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal under state law, according to a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court last year.

Police also served warrants on Antol’s two homes and a fourth property. There was no word on whether Antol is a registered caregiver.

Under Michigan law, patients may grow up to 12 plants per person. A caregiver may grow enough weed to meet the needs of five patients. That’s 60 plants total. But if the caregiver is also a patient, he may grow his own plants, for a final total of 72 plants.

The investigation started in 2010, led by the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Enforcement Team. The search warrants were executed in early July, and Antol was arrested July 24 along with his girlfriend, Samantha Conklin.

Antol is charged with felony conspiracy to distribute marijuana and federal delivery/manufacture of the drug. Conklin, together with the other seven defendants, are charged with delivery/manufacture.

Antol is listed as a habitual offender, a fact that could substantially increase his punishment over the normal maximum of seven years in prison. He could even receive a life sentence.

But attorney Kevin Wistrom, who represents Antol and Conklin, said they weren’t doing anything illegal.

“These people were legitimate cardholders,” Wistrom said. “They were exercising their rights and they were not engaging in any activity they shouldn’t.”

Marijuana Plants and PoliceWistrom also said there was no reason to police to take his clients by surprise when they were arrested at 5:30 p.m. The lawyer said he was present when the warrants were served July 9, and an officer promised to alert the defendants of any arrest warrant so they could turn themselves in. That didn’t happen.

Antol’s bail was set at $100,000, while Conklin’s was set at $50,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7. It’s unclear what sentence prosecutors will seek during trial, but Antol will likely be required to serve at least the mandatory minimum sentence in prison.

Voters in Michigan approved medical marijuana six years ago. But the program has been mired in controversy, with police aggressively targeting growers and patients, and lawmakers generally ignoring the plight of legitimate patients.

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About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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