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Big Daddy's: We're Not Stirring Pot, Have Right to Distribute Medical Marijuana

On heels of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette joining Chesterfield Township's lawsuit against the medical marijuana dispensary on Gratiot, Big Daddy's says it's fighting back.

Walking into , you might not guess the business is at the center of a high-profile lawsuit over the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan.

A man stands at the counter, filling out paperwork while a woman awaits information for her daughter with an advanced cancer. Merchandise like cultivating supplies and bongs are available for purchase while rows of medical marijuana advocacy literature pepper shelves.

But get Big Daddy Management Group shareholder and Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine Editor Rick Thompson talking about the business' mission to sell medical marijuana, and he'll say they're not just blowing smoke.

"This is the social revolution of our time," Thompson told Patch.

State Attorney General Joins Township in Lawsuit

For months, Big Daddy's has been embroiled in a lawsuit Chesterfield Township filed to try to shut down the business. When it was filed in July, the suit . On Monday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced he received permission to join the lawsuit unfolding in Macomb County Circuit Court—stating the business should be declared a public nuisance and closed.

"Across Michigan, our communities are struggling with an invasion of pot shops near their schools, homes and churches," Schuette in a news release. "Local governments have the right to protect their communities from illegal marijuana dispensaries."

Thompson says this case will play a prominent role in the debate over distributing pot in Michigan.

"Why is the attorney general becoming involved in this? Because if our case wins and we are not deemed a public nuisance, then dispensaries all over the state will reopen," he said. "He's made a career out of attacking medical marijuana since taking office."

Big Daddy's owners Rick and Sue Ferris as well as Thompson are expected to offer depositions Friday in circuit court, he said. The lawsuit also listed the landlord, Pasquale Acciavatti, as a defendant.

Thompson said they have every right to be in the township that did not have an ordinance on the books against dispensaries when they opened in summer 2010.

"The only way left to get us out of town is a nuisance (claim)," he said. "It's not anything specific to us or our operation; it's a general opposition to dispensaries."

The township attorney and officials declined to speak about the case, citing a policy not to discuss pending lawsuits.

Daily Operations at Big Daddy's

The former ironworks building at 52011 Gratiot, north of 23 Mile,  serves multiple uses for Big Daddy's. It's part retail store, hydroponic business, Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine headquarters, and distribution center—also known as the Compassion Center.

About 500 people, with chronic pain from illnesses like cancer to muscle spasms, utilize the business in Chesterfield Township; some who come with medical marijuana cards and designated drivers are allowed to smoke pot in the backroom because they have children at home or live in public housing, Thompson said.

Big Daddy's says that location was carefully selected because it's not next to residential properties or schools and it has a private driveway.

The company has other buildings, but its Oak Park location was forced to close down about three months ago following pending drug possession and conspiracy criminal charges for the Ferrises and two other associates after the Oakland County Sheriff's Office raided the facility.

Medical Marijuana, A Growing Debate

In 2008, Michigan voters approved a medical marijuana law. Under that law, people who get a doctor's approval can have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana to treat conditions such as glaucoma and chronic pain. They are also required to get a card from the Michigan Department of Community Health. In addition, under the law, licensed caregivers can grow up to 12 plants and sell marijuana to as many as five patients.

"Why is the attorney general becoming involved in this? Because if our case wins and we are not deemed a public nuisance, then dispensaries all over the state will reopen."

The Michigan attorney general noted in his statement about the Chesterfield case that the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act does not authorize dispensaries. Schuette had also joined Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick and Midland County Prosecutor Michael Carpenter to help close dispensaries in those counties.

New Baltimore Weighs Issue

As neighboring Chesterfield fights a medicial marijuana dispensary in court, a majority of New Baltimore City Council Monday passed a seven-month moratorium on dispensaries in the community—prohibiting them from locating in the city for at least that long.

City Attorney Jack Dolan said the matter could even be revisited before then if the state Supreme Court overturns the Court of Appeals ruling.

City Councilman Jeffrey Christie, who voted against the moratorium, said "I think there should be dispensaries here but heavily regulated." Christie said medicial marijuana is something that can help people suffering physical pain.

New Baltimore Police Chief Tim Wiley said the inconsistency on the issue is frustrating from a law enforcement perspective.

"It's that confusion that puts our officers' safety at risk," Wiley said.

Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey October 26, 2011 at 02:08 PM
New Baltimore and Chesterfield residents, what do you think of the Big Daddy's business? Is the government overstepping their bounds? Is it good for the economy? Is it too much for the community?
Dan October 26, 2011 at 03:02 PM
I've never seen any problems around that location. I didn't even realize it was there until it was pointed out to me. That building was vacant for at least a year. If it's occupying a building, than that should help the city with the tax's that they receive from businesses. Not to mention, I don't know of any other dispensarys anywhere close by, so if people are travelling from other cities to now come to chesterfield, I'm sure they're also stopping to get gas, or a bite to eat and thus bringing in more business to the area.
sassy October 26, 2011 at 03:05 PM
i have been to big daddys i need place like this to get my meds please do not close down my compassion center.
Steve Greene October 26, 2011 at 04:43 PM
The truth is people flooded the phones of local police and prosecutors when they first announced trying to close this place. Perhaps they should do it again. Call and complain to the township for their lawsuit. You want more truth? It lies in the fact that this center is responsible for helping hundreds of people elevate chronic debilitating conditions with an alternative to addictive pharmaceuticals. These people do a HUGE service in the community and the old school thinking about stamping out this kind of compassion has got to go, or people will revolt about it. Get out of people's medicine cabinets and stop wasting public resources, our tax dollars, on fighting what people want.
TheMedJoint October 26, 2011 at 04:43 PM
I used to have to goto the street to get my medcine. The dangers of having to do this were eliminated by the opening of compassion centers like this one. The TEST the medicine with a FDA/DEA/FBI approved machine. They match me up with the correct medicine for my health problems. With Big Daddys I have been able to acquire that better quality of life I have been searching for for more than 20 years. With the advanced testing they can screen the medicine to be sure it does not have high pesticide levels. They have proven the marijuana on the streets IS dangerous! We need more places like these providing a testing service for caregivers across the area to be sure they are producing medicine safe for their patients. Safe Access starts with us
Mike October 26, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Closing down dispensaries is just a tool that the state attorney general, Bill Schuete, is using to try and dismantle the mmmp. He is trying to make the law useless for patients and caregivers by restricting their access. This is just a means to an end that he cannot get to any other way. Hey Bill, you're an elected official, how about listening to the people whom you are supposed to represent. The people who voted for their right to use the medication that they find best for themselves. Stop wasting our dwindling public resources on attacking sick innocent people and those who are trying to help them cope. Please folks, call your local and state officials, and demand that they put a stop to this persecution of our citizens.
George Van Setters October 26, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Listen pain pills kill daily in this nation, chemo is unbareable, this drug marijuana has killed less people than tylenol, ok! Im outraged that this state has chosen to give the voters the middle finger, with a smear campaign based on LIES! Pharmacys are next to schools and what they sell is TEN times more dangerous than Marijuana will ever be, the federal gov. says Marijuana is as bad as herion, this is an outright LIE! Its is very low addicting compared to darvecet and vicodin even, to say that morphine and any opiud is anything like marijuana is absolutly sickining, go to the local rehab, see how many people are their for Marijuana, and then see how many are their for vicodin morphine darvecet sleeping and depression pills, yeah its sickining and it is wrong, Im a mmj patient Ive been down the pill road it is a NIGHTMARE, I will DIE before I allow them to make it so I have to take such pills, ok! Im outraged this state has the grime to pick on sick, cripple people that can have a normal life from a died dried plant, if this is true how can you say this is America? Are the police going to arrest my grandma for driving because that morning she ate a darvecet, (which kills)? Is the gov. and state institutes going to raid homes because grandpa has a gun and takes Morphine (which kills)? Just WRONG! We have a right to purseu happiness, we have a right to bare arms aganst lieing gov. its the founding bases of America! 60000 aplications? Way more than that look it up! Enough!
Clora October 26, 2011 at 05:52 PM
I hope that this can be resolved quickly! Some people, like myself, need this medicine I wake up in the mornings with my blood pressure at 206 over 130 I have at least 5 different types of blood pressure medicine and none of them work unless I take the medical marijuana with it. My Doctor wrote me a precription for it. If the state is trying to close all dispensaries, why are they still taking our money for the cards. I rather smoke than have to take all the medicine it takes to get my pressure down, and not having to worry about all those pills messing with my kidney.
George Van Setters October 26, 2011 at 06:05 PM
I just visited the mmj gov. site it CLEARLY says " 192,176 original and renewal applications received since April 6, 2009." NOT INCLUDING the first year which I beleive the number was closer to 150,000 apps, maybe more so well over 300,000 mmj pateints ALONE in Mi. they charge $100 per ap. and that is JUST patients, we need real reporters that want to talk about the TRUTH not distort it!
Kevin Sterling October 26, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Cannabis has killed less people in the entire recorded history of man than were killed by coin operated vending machines in 2010.
Stephen Kiluk October 26, 2011 at 08:40 PM
If no dispensaries are allowed to operate, then where are patients supposed to get medicinal marijuana? Closing legal dispensaries is only going to force patients to seek a supply outside of the regulatory sphere. By preventing legal dispensaries from operating the government shall be encouraging extra-legal marijuana distribution. I believe the perfect historical precedent for this rationale is the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s. If the government prevents people from getting what they want legally, they will find a way to obtain it illegally and the costs to society will be greater than if it were responsibly regulated. Marijuana was included in the United States Pharmacopeia up until the 1940s and was widely accepted as a medicinal herb, it is a legitimate medical treatment for a large number of ailments and should be just as available as morphine currently is to patients that could benefit from it therapeutically.
Alan Dean Naldrett October 27, 2011 at 12:55 AM
Why are my tax dollars being wasted on this non-issue? Who has the dispensary harmed? Another instance of government interference into people's private lives.
Christina October 27, 2011 at 01:46 AM
The problem is not necessarily the dispensaries, but rather the sham of a system in place to allow just about anyone who's ever had a headache or toothache to get a medical marijuana card. That's where the focus should be shifted, to ensure that only those people with VALID medical conditions are getting it through these channels.
Lilly October 28, 2011 at 04:24 PM
Didn't we VOTE this in ? Now THEY want to shut these places DOWN !? I guess they think it is better to be hooked on prescription meds that people are DYING FROM ..This is absurd. I have NEVER heard of someone dying from weed. Let's get real here..it is ALL politics. IF you never smoked it ..then YOU have no idea how it works and should NOT comment. You DON'T know what you are talking about ...MORE WASTED TAX DOLLARS. People will never stop.. so deal with it.
Lilly October 28, 2011 at 04:38 PM
A family member of mine is trying to get off all these meds that were Dr prescribed and is going through HELL. These Dr's are KILLING people with this junk. As you all know Michael Jackson and many more stars are DEAD from it. I have NEVER heard of ANYONE dying from weed. This is such a shame that they will not let people get the MEDICAL weed they need. It is ALL NATURAL and WON'T KILL YOU. Politics and what a WASTE OF TAX DOLLARS. Feed the hungry instead of going after the clinics. Put that money to better use.
Jamie October 29, 2011 at 11:51 AM
Schuette is unnaturally obsessed with this issue. Since the beginning of this program, people have been helped with their health care needs, lives have improved and have been saved as a result. A place such as Big Daddy's offers the education and safe access that people need. As a result, vacant buildings are being used, jobs created, crime reduced. Other than pure ignorance or purposeful opposition, there is no reason to waste our scarce resources on issues like this. Chesterfield abd the State of Michigan have issues to address that are actually known to cause problems. Please stop the violent criminals, and investigate meth labs, and leave medical marijuana alone. Respect the voters.
Richie rich biatch November 06, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Michigan is as crooked as the letter L.you people need to open your eyes and see bill schuette is the pharmaceutical industries sword trying to cut our rights down like the dea cuts our plants down.wake up people drug companies are the ones fighting us they are just hiding behind our douchbag attorney gen and our courts trust everything I am writing people that is the truth and nothing but the truth also the government gets all our property that is involved in illegal drug activity ie a plant

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