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Ferndale Marijuana Ordinance Petitioner Arrested On Drug Charges
By Crystal A. Proxmire
Originally printed 9/19/2013 (Issue 2138 - Between The Lines News)
FERNDALE - Andrew Cissell, the main person responsible for putting marijuana decriminalization on the ballot for the Nov. 5 election, has been arrested and charged with several drug-related felonies following an Oakland Narcotics Enforcement Team sting operation.
According to Undersheriff Mike McCabe of the Oakland County Sheriff's Department, Narcotics Enforcement Team members "conducted an investigation and identified a subject who was selling marijuana in the areas of Ferndale, Oak Park, and Wayne County. The investigation was continued, and with the use of a cooperating individual the subject was identified as Andrew Robert Cissell." The investigation began in late August.
Cissell had stepped into the local limelight in early August as he led a successful petition drive to get marijuana decriminalization placed on the ballot in Ferndale. According to McCabe, Cissell was not a Ferndale resident at the time of turning in the petitions, having used his father's address.
His father's home on Drayton Avenue was one of three that was part of a search warrant, though when NET officers arrived they were told that Cissell had not lived there in three years. "No illegal contraband was located at the residence," MaCabe said in a statement.
Two other homes were raided, both of which were in Oak Park. The report says Cissell was arrested after "the cooperating individual was wired and participated in purchasing marijuana from Andrew Robert Cissell on two different occasions. The marijuana deliveries were conducted in a controlled setting and the deals were recorded." The arrest took place at the second undercover purchase.
During the arrest, NET Investigators seized 120 grams of marijuana from Cissell's vehicle and $405.
From a home on Renselaer in Oak Park they seized 47 marijuana plants. According to the report, "the plants were located in 3 different areas of the residence - 21 plants in a small room located on the main residence floor, the plants were in pots with an indoor lighting and watering system, 17 marijuana plants located in the basement, also growing in pots with an indoor lighting and watering system and 9 plants growing outside the address inside the fenced yard." Police also found digital scales, a "large amount" of packaging, marijuana paraphernalia, and two small safes that contained 838 grams of high grade marijuana, a gold necklace and $50. McCabe also said that documents found at the residence had Cissell's name on them.
Another house in Oak Park was included in the investigation. According to the report, at a home on Rosewood Street investigators found "58 marijuana plants growing inside the residence. The plants were located in two different areas of the address. 22 marijuana plants were located upstairs growing in pots with an indoor watering and lighting system along 36 plants growing in the basement also with an indoor lighting and watering system." The report also listed documents, paraphernalia, packaging material and digital scales as part of what was taken for evidence.
McCabe said Cissell had also had four medical marijuana "caregiver" cards on his person and he was also a medical marijuana patient. The cards were issued by the state under the authority of the Medical Marijuana Act, and permit caregivers and patients to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes. According to the State of Michigan rules, "A person can be a qualifying patient and be designated as a caregiver for five (5) patients, therefore; allowed to grow up to a maximum of 72 plants total (if designated by each of the patients to possess the plants)." The state also requires "A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry ID card may possess an amount of marijuana that does not exceed 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana."
Prior to the investigation, Cissell advocated for marijuana legalization and when asked about his occupation, said he "networked with medical marijuana patients." Cissell also said he planned on running for the Michigan House of Representatives.
Craig Covey, former Ferndale Mayor and current Mayoral candidate, is a strong supporter of marijuana decriminalization. He helped gather signatures for Proposal A, and plans on continuing to fight for its implementation. "Three years ago the City of Ferndale was targeted for its attempt to allow zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries, and the result was police raids on the Clinical Relief business. That case is still in the courts, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in prosecutor's and court costs. This does not change the view by many that the system of prohibition is broken. Vote Yes on Prop. A," he said, adding "I sure hope our sheriff's office doesn't use its powerful resources to target people for their political beliefs and activities."
As the result of the petition-gathering, Ferndale residents will face a proposal vote on Nov. 5, giving them the option of changing the code of ordinances to add Sec. 12 - 82 to the Ferndale Code of Ordinances, Chapter 12, Article III, to read: "Sec. 12 - 82. Non - Applicability to Certain Behaviors Involving Marijuana. "None of the provisions of Sections 12 - 79 through 12 - 81 shall apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years."
Cissell was arraigned at the 45B District Court before Judge Friedman Appel on Sept. 11. His bond was set at $50,000 cash on five felony counts of delivery/manufacture of marijuana. He is expected in court on Sept. 17 for a pretrial conference.
The Ferndale City Clerk is working with The Michigan Bureau of Elections to determine the best course of action in regards to the petitions and the ballot proposal.
Mayor Dave Coulter said, "Law enforcement will handle the alleged manufacturing and distribution operation, which appears to have far exceeded the stated goal of allowing small quantities of personal marijuana. As mayor, however, the integrity of our elections cannot be compromised and I'm deeply concerned about the possibility of election fraud on the voters of Ferndale. We'll work closely with state election officials to determine the impact on the ballot initiative. If fraud is found I'll ask the Sheriff's office to take all appropriate measures to hold accountable anyone responsible."
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