Drug enforcement agents raid Thomas Township

THOMAS TOWNSHIP — Less than a week after he organized a protest outside the Saginaw County Courthouse, the Thomas Township home John F. Roberts, 49, a medical marijuana patient and caregiver, was raided by federal drug enforcement agents.

Roberts said he was near the rear of his multiple-acre property when unmarked cars pulled up to the gravel shoulder of the road in front of his home and agents exited their vehicles with guns drawn.

Roberts said he was handcuffed near a hammock, less than 10 yards from a pile of various protest signs left over after a Friday protest rally. A green poster on top read: “Please learn the law.”

Behind the mound of signs were some children’s toys and a large shed where Roberts had been growing marijuana with his fiancee, Stephanie Whisman, 38, who is also a caretaker and lives at the home.

This isn’t the first time law enforcement has raided the home.

Roberts and his fiancee haven’t been charged since agents and Saginaw County sheriff’s deputies first raided their home April 15 — the same day the home of Saginaw Township resident and medical marijuana user Edwin W. Boyke, 64, was searched, his grow equipment destroyed and property and product was seized, much of which was later returned after Boyke agreed to pay $5,000 for its release.

The couple says law enforcement is unfairly targeting them.

Whisman said she was arrested the day of the protest for a several-year-old outstanding city tax bill that was originally $26, before interest and penalties. She said it cost $550 to be bonded out of the Saginaw County Jail.

City officials could not be reached Tuesday evening to comment on the arrest.

Roberts and Whisman said, under the state law passed in November of 2008, they may possess 132 plants and a little more than one and a half pounds of “usable marijuana,” based on the 10 patients they said they care for — five each — and Roberts’ individual patient allotment.

Roberts said he felt nauseous and on the edge of having an anxiety attack as he took a walk around a mown trail that leads through a wooded area behind the growing shed.

He said he was working up his nerve to look inside.

“I may lose everything I own,” Roberts said. “I’m terrified, utterly terrified.”

On his attorney’s advice, Roberts wouldn’t discuss specifically what agents seized, but said they had less than what state law allows. Agents confiscated about $10,000 in growing equipment, Roberts said.

“They came in, and even the cops were there, they said the medical did not matter,” Roberts said. “They will not recognize medical marijuana.”

The DEA could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Medical Marijuana Protest b.JPGJay L. French, 45
of Bay City waves a flag during a protest outside of the Saginaw County Governmental Center. Medical marijuana backers in the Thursday protest at Court and South Michigan took aim at drug enforcement seizures by the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department.

Thomas Township police supported federal agents with the raid.

Whisman said the agents plan to take the evidence before a federal judge to secure arrest warrants for herself and Roberts.

“We live in fear,” Roberts said. “This is America?

“I don’t think so anymore. I don’t know what this country is. I really don’t.”