In communities that haven’t approved medical pot ordinances, police and county prosecutors have effectively treated it as an illegal narcotic.(Photo: The Detroit News)Buy Photo
Lansing — County sheriffs across Michigan are using excess state revenue from medical marijuana patient and caregiver fees to beef up enforcement as the state prepares to license dispensaries and related pot businesses in communities that want them.
Law enforcement agencies in 54 of Michigan’s 83 counties received a combined $1.83 million in medical marijuana enforcement grants from the state in 2017, according to a new legislative report. The grants financed spending on overtime pay, grow house raids, vehicles, surveillance equipment, firearms, Tasers, tactical gear and more.
The state doled out more than twice the amount of enforcement grant funding than in 2016, when 18 counties applied and spent a combined $823,376. A spokesman for the newly formed Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation says the state did a better job promoting grant funding this year, in part by reaching out to county, sheriff and prosecuting attorney associations.
Legislators created the grant program three years ago, allowing the state to distribute registration fee revenue to county law enforcement agencies proportionally based on the number of local patients and caregivers. The 2018 budget signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in July includes another $3 million in potential grants, which sheriffs needed to apply for by Monday.
Law enforcement officials say the funding is critical to enforcing the state’s 2008 medical marijuana law, which allows patients and caregivers to grow a limited number of plants but did not anticipate the glut of marijuana businesses that popped up. The state will begin licensing and regulating those operations this year.
The state grants have helped the county increase patient and caregiver compliance, said Mike Jaafar, chief