WARREN - A former Warren city official is suing the city for $5 million on behalf of medical marijuana patients. He says the city is blocking their legal right to use the drug.
There are 23 plaintiffs in all, including the Michigan Safe Transfer Center which claims it has been subject to illegal searches and seizures and that the city is doing everything in its power to shut them down.
"You feel like you shouldn't have this," said Debra Vought, a patient. "It's legal and it's helpful. I don't understand what the problem is."
Vought, who suffers from chronic back pain, claims she has her legal medical marijuana card but the city of Warren is making it almost impossible to get her medicine.
Standing in the way of people like Bryan Mazurkiewicz, who runs a transfer facility - a safe place where patients can meet with caregivers to purchase their medical marijuana.
"That's what is frustrating,'” said Mazurkiewicz. "You come in every day you and you're trying to make a difference and it goes back to the same thing. You are labeled a drug dealer."
That's why former Warren Deputy Mayor Michael Greiner is suing the city he use to work for.
The attorney, who leases his building on Hoover Road to the marijuana transfer facility, claims caregivers and patients have been victims of police intimidation and unlawful raids.
"They have been subjected to repeated harassment by the city of Warren," Greiner said. "Unlawfully detained, no charges have ever been brought against them, because they haven't violated the law."
FOX 2: "There is speculation you may be behind the raids, the harassment within the city of Warren?"
"No this location, I don't know anything about," Mayor Jim Fouts said.
Fouts, who denies ordering any sort of a police presence at that location, is surprised about the lawsuit. He says he respects the medical marijuana law and people who conduct their business legally.
His concern is the complaints the city has received from neighbors of dispensaries.
"It appears to be instead of pot for patients, it appears to be pot for profit," Fouts said. "That's what we're concerned about, the odor and offensive problems that medical marijuana in some cases, creates in the neighborhoods."
Right now, Fouts is working on an ordinance that would regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, the smell and the traffic.
Greiner can't help but wonder why the city continues to stand in the way when he claims this transfer facility already complies with similar state regulations.
"We've tried to work with the city for months now to try to resolve this," Greiner said. "They have essentially treated us as if we are nothing more than criminals."
Fouts wants to move the transfer centers and dispensaries to zoned, industrial areas as part of the ordinance he hopes to introduce in November.