On Sunday October 6, the Fife Lake Fire Department responded to reports of a fire at an apartment complex located at 206 Main Street. After investigating, authorities suspected the blaze was sparked by a light used in a large indoor marijuana grow operation, according to a news article at the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Members of the fire department found that residents in two apartments were growing marijuana; upon inspection by the Traverse Narcotics Team and Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputies, it was determined that marijuana plants were being grown throughout the five apartment structure, including in the basement.
The building sustained substantial fire and smoke damage, causing three of the residents to be evacuated.
One of the residents of the apartment complex claimed that he was growing marijuana for his own personal medical use, and that he had a permit. However, authorities found the number of plants the resident was growing to be more than allowed under limits set by the state of Michigan.
Upon inspection of the high-powered grow lights, authorities found that an electrical cord was worn, exposing bare wires. While investigations continued, it is believed the grow light started the fire.
In Michigan, individuals with certain medical conditions such as glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, and cancer are permitted to use marijuana and possess the drug legally, without facing criminal charges. While patients and caregivers must be registered, caregivers are limited to caring for five patients. Under MMMA (Michigan Medical Marijuana Act), caregivers may only possess 12 marijuana plants, or up to 2 1/2 ounces of finished marijuana.
The state’s medical marijuana laws are not clear; many individuals have a difficult time understanding them. While charges had not been filed against any of the tenants as of the time of news reports, investigations were ongoing, which could lead to charges. Unfortunately, those who believe they are in compliance with the law often face criminal charges, as prosecutors and police will make every effort to prove that an individual was in possession of more marijuana or plants than is legal for medical purposes.
If you have been accused of a crime involving marijuana and are a registered patient or caregiver, consult with an experienced Michigan drug crimes lawyer at once to protect your legal rights and avoid serious criminal penalties.