A Lansing medical marijuana dispensary may have violated state election and campaign finance laws by advertising free marijuana in return for registering to vote,local and state officials said Thursday.
Officials from the Lansing city clerk to the state attorney general are investigating a recent posting on the Your Healthy Choice Clinic website that also lists the names of Lansing City Council candidates the dispensary backs.
The posting since has been edited,but originally said it would “reward legal patients with a .5 gram free or a free medible!”for registering to vote for the Nov. 8 election.
The site does not directly state it will provide free products to people in exchange for a vote. But the dispensary,located near Clara’s Lansing Station restaurant on Michigan Avenue,said it supports at-large incumbent Derrick Quinney,1st Ward candidate Harold Leeman Jr. and 3rd Ward incumbent A’Lynne Robinson.
At-large incumbent Carol Wood and 1st Ward candidate Jody Washington are mentioned specifically as deserving of “no”votes.
“Do they have a right to voice and talk about who they support? I don’t have an issue with that,”Wood said. “My concern is that with the Voter Registration Act,I don’t think how they’re handling this is legal.”
It is a misdemeanor under state election law to induce a vote. And depending on the value and amount of marijuana products distributed free,as well as how much dispensary staff spent on the offer,the act could violate Michigan’s campaign finance rules.
Organizations that raise or spend at least $500 on an election must register as political committees under the law,Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said.
Owner Shekina Pena did not return calls seeking comment Thursday. The Associated Press,citing other media sources,quoted her as saying the offer was not meant to buy votes.
“We let them know how we feel,we don’t tell them who to vote for,”Pena said. “We definitely want to support the ones who are supporting us.”
City Clerk Chris Swope said he has contacted the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Bureau of Elections to discuss how to handle the matter.
Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement his office is investigating and it appears to be “an example of the law being exploited by those with their own agenda.”
Any charges would be filed by Ingham County prosecutors,who said Thursday they have not received any reports from law enforcement officials.