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Patient Using Marijuana Convicted on Drug Charge

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LAKE ORION – Retired police dispatcher and school-bus driver Barb Agro of Lake Orion said today she planned to appeal her conviction this week on manufacturing marijuana – a four-year felony – after an Oakland County judge would not let jurors hear that Agro was a state-approved medical-marijuana user.

Judge Wendy Potts "allowed the jury to see my statement that I had 17 plants in my basement, and to see my signature on there, but she wouldn't let the jury see the rest" of her written statement, Agro said. The rest of the statement included Agro saying that she was a state-approved medical marijuana patient as well as an approved caregiver, allowed to supply the drug to as many as five approved patients, under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

"So I was allowed to have those plants. But they treated me like any drug user," Agro, 71, of Lake Orion said.

Agro's defense attorney Jerome Sabbota said she was the first defendant to be tried among more than two dozen arrested Aug 25 in a series of raids at medical-marijuana dispensaries in Ferndale and Waterford, and at homes linked to the dispensaries. Agro, her late husband and two sons worked for the Clinical Relief dispensary in Ferndale, she said.

Judges as a rule do not comment on recent cases. But Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said in May that, depending on the circumstances of a case, it would be proper for county judges to keep defendants such as Agro from using their state-approved medical marijuana status as a criminal defense. Cooper also has said repeatedly, in agreement with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, that nothing in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act approved in 2008 by state voters allows for or even mentions dispensaries, which have sprung up across the state to sell medical marijuana.

Complicating Agro's case was the fact that police found her house unlocked – because, she said, her late husband Sal Agro had rushed off that morning, forgetting to lock up, after hearing that his sons' homes were being raided. The unlocked house constituted a violation of the state law on medical marijuana because it meant that the Agros' cultivation facility was not properly secured, police said after the raid.

The dozens of protesters who massed outside the Oakland County courthouse Monday in support of Agro might have hurt her case, Agro's attorney Sabbota said Wednesday.

"Some of the protesters approached jurors (as they walked into the courthouse) and I think it backfired," Sabbota said Wednesday. Potts later asked each juror, one at at time in the courtroom, whether the protesters' actions would discourage them from convicting Agro if the evidence was sufficient, Sabbota said.

Each juror denied to the judge that the protesters had had any influence, but her questioning might have made them feel pressured to convict, he said.


News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
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Author: Bill Laitner
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