Incident Highlights Need for Better ADA Compliance in Michigan Cannabis Industry

Published 3 weeks ago Legal & Crime
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An incident involving potential discrimination against a disabled combat veteran at a provisioning center in Ann Arbor has sparked concerns about the cannabis industry's adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The event, which took place on June 29th, 2024, underscores the necessity for better education and awareness among cannabis business operators regarding their legal obligations toward customers with disabilities.

A disabled veteran, whose name has been withheld due to an impending formal complaint, reported being denied entry to a provisioning center because of their service dog. According to the veteran, the situation escalated until they mentioned contacting the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), which led to a sudden change in the employees' demeanor. The veteran also reported being asked for documentation for their service animal, a request that is explicitly prohibited under the ADA.

This veteran's distressing experience is not an isolated case. Reports of similar incidents have surfaced in recent months, with at least four veterans reporting denial of entry to cannabis provisioning centers due to their service animals. Such incidents highlight a troubling pattern of non-compliance with ADA regulations, which mandate that businesses must allow individuals with service animals to enter their premises without requiring any special documentation or identification for the animals.

ADA Requirements and Industry Responsibilities

Under the ADA, businesses must accommodate individuals with disabilities and their service animals. The law is clear: service animals are not required to wear special vests, nor can businesses ask for documentation proving the animal's status. The only permissible inquiries are whether the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. Failure to comply with these requirements constitutes discrimination, regardless of whether the violation stems from ignorance or deliberate action.

The incident in Ann Arbor is a reminder of the cannabis industry's duty to adhere to these laws. Licensees must ensure their staff are fully aware of and compliant with ADA requirements as a condition of maintaining their licenses. Discrimination, whether intentional or due to lack of knowledge, poses significant legal risks and can damage the reputation of the businesses involved.

Call for Enhanced Education and Industry Standards

In response to the incident, the concerned party who alerted the CRA has pledged to address this issue directly with CRA Director Brian Hanna. The aim is to ensure that the provisioning center involved, as well as the broader industry, receives proper education on ADA compliance. This proactive approach seeks to prevent future incidents and promote a more inclusive environment for all customers.

The repeated nature of these complaints highlights a need for systemic change. The CRA has been urged to issue educational reminders to all licensees, reinforcing the importance of ADA compliance and the rights of individuals with service animals. Education and awareness are crucial to prevent unnecessary legal conflicts and to foster a welcoming atmosphere for veterans and other individuals with disabilities.

Industry Reactions and Broader Implications

Reactions within the industry have been mixed. Some argue that the lack of familiarity with service animals in dispensaries could lead to misunderstandings, emphasizing the need for education rather than punitive measures. Others stress that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for non-compliance and that businesses must be held accountable for their actions.

Veterans, in particular, are a significant demographic within the cannabis community, often using cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Ensuring their rights and comfort within provisioning centers is not only a legal obligation but also a matter of respect and gratitude for their service.

Moving Forward

The cannabis industry in Michigan must prioritize ADA compliance to avoid discrimination and create an inclusive environment for all customers. This incident serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of education and the need for continuous efforts to uphold the rights of individuals with disabilities.

For further information on ADA requirements, please refer to the official ADA website.

Cannabis Dispensary Owner Receives 24-Month Prison Sentence for Tax Fraud

Published 1 month ago Legal & Crime
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In a significant legal development, Ryan Richmond, a businessman from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, has been sentenced to 24 months in prison for tax evasion, failure to file tax returns, and obstruction of an IRS audit. Richmond, the owner and operator of Relief Choices LLC, a cannabis dispensary in Warren, Michigan, was found guilty of orchestrating a scheme to conceal the true extent of his business's income through cash transactions and third-party credit card payments.

Legal Proceedings and Sentencing

U.S. District Judge Linda V. Parker for the Eastern District of Michigan handed down the prison sentence, emphasizing the severity of Richmond's financial misconduct. In addition to the prison term, Richmond was ordered to serve one year of supervised release following his incarceration and to pay $2,777,684 in restitution to the IRS.

Financial Deception Unveiled

Evidence presented during the trial revealed that Richmond directed Relief Choices to conduct significant financial transactions in cash and routed credit card payments through unrelated third-party bank accounts. These actions were intended to obscure the business's gross receipts and evade regulatory scrutiny.

Richmond's legal troubles stemmed from his deliberate failure to report Relief Choices' substantial earnings on his personal tax returns for the years 2012 through 2014. This omission deprived the IRS of significant tax revenue and highlighted the extent of his financial deception.

Obstruction of IRS Audit

The situation worsened for Richmond when he obstructed an IRS audit in 2015 and 2016. Court records indicate that Richmond misled auditors by downplaying his involvement in Relief Choices and misrepresenting the business's profits. This obstruction impeded the IRS's efforts to uncover the truth and compounded Richmond's legal issues.

Government Response and Commitment

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department's Tax Division highlighted the case's importance, reaffirming the government's commitment to prosecuting individuals involved in tax evasion schemes. This case underscores the government's stance that financial misconduct will be met with severe consequences.

Investigation and Prosecution

The investigation into Richmond's activities was led by IRS Criminal Investigation, demonstrating the agency's dedication to combating financial fraud. Trial Attorneys Mark McDonald and Christopher P. O'Donnell from the Justice Department's Tax Division prosecuted the case, showcasing the collaborative efforts of regulatory and legal bodies to ensure justice is served.


Ryan Richmond's sentencing serves as a powerful reminder of the severe consequences of financial deceit and tax evasion. As regulatory agencies intensify their efforts to combat financial crimes, individuals engaging in illicit schemes must be prepared to face significant repercussions. Transparency and compliance with tax laws are essential to maintaining the integrity of the financial system and protecting public trust.

Landlord and Cannabis Entrepreneur Head to Trial Over Lease and Zoning Conflict

Published 1 month ago Legal & Crime
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A commercial landlord and a cannabis entrepreneur will head to trial over allegations of unpaid rent, following a ruling by a Michigan state judge. The dispute centers on whether a local government's decision to force the cannabis business to cease operations voids their lease agreement.

Judge Victoria A. Valentine of the Oakland County Circuit Court determined that neither Mel Belovicz, the property owner, nor Paul Weinstock, the tenant operating a combined medical marijuana grow and sign-making business, could be declared in breach of the lease without a jury's input.

The conflict involves the responsibility for the final six months of rent, totaling at least $21,000, for a property in Redford, Michigan. According to court documents, Weinstock's business, Radiant Sign Co. LLC, had leased the property from Belovicz's company, 312 Redford LLC, for the entirety of 2022. Besides making signs, Radiant Sign Co. also intended to cultivate and sell medical cannabis, a legal activity in Michigan. However, Redford Township prohibits marijuana establishments within its boundaries.

Despite this prohibition, Belovicz contends that the township had implicitly permitted cannabis cultivation in 2020, provided all necessary permits were obtained. This understanding led to the signing of a lease containing a crucial clause: if Redford Township deemed the cannabis cultivation contrary to its zoning or ordinances, the lease would become null and void, and the tenant would have to vacate the premises immediately.

In the summer of 2022, Redford officials discovered Weinstock's cannabis grow operation and ordered its cessation. Weinstock returned the property keys to Belovicz later that year. Subsequently, in February 2023, Belovicz's company sued Weinstock for breach of contract and other claims, with Weinstock countersuing on similar grounds.

The pivotal issue is whether the lease provision concerning Redford's actions obligates Weinstock to pay the last six months of rent. Both parties sought summary judgment on this matter, but Judge Valentine ruled that key facts must be determined at trial.

"Accordingly, neither party is entitled to summary disposition as to Count I — Breach of Contract," Judge Valentine stated.

However, the landlord achieved a partial victory, securing summary judgment against Weinstock's fraudulent misrepresentation claims. Weinstock alleged that Belovicz falsely claimed Redford tacitly allowed cannabis cultivation. The judge found that, at the time, this statement might have been true.

In November 2021, Redford Township explicitly reaffirmed its prohibition on medical and recreational marijuana facilities. This change indicated that the township's regulatory stance might have evolved, making it uncertain whether Belovicz's earlier statements about Redford's tacit allowance were false when made in 2020. Judge Valentine noted that Weinstock was aware of potential zoning issues and had a duty to verify the legality of his grow operation independently.

Attorneys Brian E. Etzel and William C. DiSess of Williams Williams Rattner & Plunkett PC represent Belovicz and his company. Sarah Prout Rennie of the Law Offices of Sarah Prout Rennie PLLC represents Weinstock and his business. Neither party has commented publicly on the case.

Businessman Who Bribed Michigan Cannabis Board Writes Book from Prison

Published 1 month ago Legal & Crime
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John Dalaly, an Oakland County businessman who pleaded guilty to bribing the chairman of Michigan's medical marijuana licensing board, has written a book titled "The Dalaly Way: Conquering Crisis" while serving his prison sentence.

The 194-page book, available on Amazon, aims to share Dalaly's "strategy of self-directed learning with others." It includes photos of Dalaly with current Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former Gov. Rick Snyder, and primarily offers life advice and guidance on handling a prison term.

The Dalaly Way: Conquering Crisis - Front Cover
The Dalaly Way: Conquering Crisis - Back Cover

Dalaly briefly addresses the crime that led to his incarceration. He describes himself as an "industrialist" who entered the cannabis industry to "improve the lives of patients while creating jobs and supporting my family." He found obtaining a marijuana license to be difficult, leading him to seek assistance.

"I reached out to people I knew in the state to explore strategies for working with the licensing board," Dalaly wrote. "I thought I found my edge in a consultant connected to the government and leaped at the chance. In providing them compensation without doing my due diligence, my eagerness overcame my good sense. To my eternal shame, the compensation I provided this consultant was against the law."

Dalaly admitted to giving at least $68,200 in cash payments and other benefits to Rick Johnson, a former lobbyist and then-chairman of the licensing board, believing these expenditures would influence or reward Johnson, according to his plea agreement.

In September, a Michigan judge sentenced Dalaly to 28 months in prison. That same month, Johnson, a former Michigan House speaker, was sentenced to 55 months.

Dalaly, then 71, surrendered to a correctional facility in West Virginia on November 30.

His book states that federal prison policies permit inmates to prepare manuscripts for "private use or publication while in custody without staff approval."

"By documenting my journey through prison, I memorialize the various ways that a person can work to build mental health with a deliberate, intentional plan to prepare," Dalaly's book says.

Camden Dispensary Burglars Receive Probation and Fines

Published 1 month ago Legal & Crime
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Three teenagers from Battle Creek involved in the burglary of a cannabis dispensary in Camden on January 31st have been sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act to probation and fines.

Dontay Dequan Banks, 19, Milton Tyier Hudson, 18, and Jeramiah Javon Smith, 18, appeared in the 1st Judicial Circuit Court on June 10 for sentencing after pleading guilty to breaking and entering a building with intent to commit larceny. Their plea deal resulted in the dismissal of more serious charges, including conspiracy to commit breaking and entering, receiving and concealing a stolen motor vehicle, third-degree fleeing/eluding police, and resisting arrest.

A fourth individual involved, Treshaun Omeirr Boykins, 23, is scheduled for a continued criminal pretrial conference on July 1st, with a jury trial set for September on all five charges. Authorities suspect Boykins was the getaway driver.

According to a police report, Michigan State Police responded to a commercial building alarm at The Pinnacle Emporium, located at 421 S. Main St., in the early hours of January 31st. Upon arrival, officers found four men and a juvenile in a 2018 white Kia parked at the scene.

The suspects fled, leading police on a high-speed chase south into Ohio, then west into Indiana, with speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour. The pursuit re-entered Michigan in southern Branch County, where the vehicle was eventually stopped using a PIT maneuver near Calhoun County.

After the vehicle was immobilized, the suspects fled on foot but were quickly apprehended. The juvenile was released to his parents, while the four men were initially held at the Branch County Jail before being transferred to the Hillsdale County Jail.

Judge Megan Stiverson, during the arraignment, highlighted that none of the men had prior criminal records and mentioned the new Community Corrections Program in Hillsdale County.

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Man Allegedly High on Cannabis Runs Down Elderly Couple in Branch County

Published 1 month ago Legal & Crime
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A man from Coldwater Lake is being held on a $1 million bond for allegedly using his pick-up truck to run down an elderly couple in Branch County's Kinderhook Township on Monday night while reportedly high on cannabis.

McCain Matthew Snyder, 22, faces two counts of assault with intent to murder after allegedly running over the grandparents of a girl he was reportedly stalking. Each charge carries a potential life sentence. Branch County Prosecuting Attorney Zach Stempien also charged Snyder with failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily impairment, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

According to police, Snyder drove his Ford Ranger truck onto the grass as he was leaving Simco Drive, striking 81-year-old David Sluyter and his 77-year-old wife, Jill, near their home. The couple was reportedly on their way to Snyder's mother's house to confront her about accusations Snyder had made against them.

Earlier that evening, Snyder had visited the Sluyters' home in the Shawnee Shoals subdivision, accusing them of sexually abusing the girl he was allegedly stalking. Before leaving, he reportedly warned the couple, "I'll be back."

Jill Sluyter suffered internal and head injuries, including a fractured pelvis and back. David Sluyter sustained serious leg fractures, and there is a possibility he may require amputation of his left leg below the knee. He was flown by medical helicopter to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Michigan State Police reported that after the crash, Snyder drove to a friend's home on Central Road, where troopers located him and took him into custody. Snyder's father informed troopers that his son had recently begun smoking large amounts of cannabis, writing on the walls, and obsessing over Biblical passages.

Snyder's father also stated that his son "swore up and down" that the Sluyters were child molesters. However, the girl denied any assaults had taken place and said she did not have a relationship with Snyder.

Approximately two hours before the hit-and-run, around 5:30 p.m., troopers encountered Snyder parked at the State Police Post on State Street in Coldwater. At that time, he claimed he was trying to ensure he wasn't being hunted down. Troopers noted that Snyder did not appear to be a threat at that moment.

A probable cause conference for Snyder is scheduled for June 25, with a preliminary exam set for July 2nd, 2024.