Cass County caregiver seeks attorney general's help to drop marijuana-related charges

NOW: Cass County caregiver seeks attorney general’s help to drop marijuana-related charges


CASS COUNTY, Mich, -- A Cass County man is hoping Michigan’s attorney general will drop the marijuana-related charges against him. He’s going straight to her office Tuesday morning with a plea for help.

Joseph Lorello is the man facing charges. He is licensed to grow dozens of plants as a medical marijuana caregiver but, he still faces criminal enterprise charges for growing marijuana on his properties.

Lorello is calling the charges against him “ridiculous.” He is licensed by the state to legally grow medical marijuana. Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Michigan, he thinks the case against him is even more bizarre.

That’s why he wants Attorney General Dana Nessel’s help.

This is a portion of the letter Lorello plans to put on the attorney general’s desk Tuesday: “I was in a medical marijuana collective of growers. Seven of us total. I, myself, am a licensed caregiver serving five patients plus my own medical needs. Prosecutor calls me a worthless drug dealer who sells drugs to children. Drug dealers do not work with people’s doctors. Medical marijuana caregivers do.”

Lorello’s case goes to trial April 8 which is why he is seeking help now.

“I need her to see the case,” Lorello said. “There’s been other cases she has dropped that are almost identical.”

Nessel ran on a pro-cannabis platform.  She promised to drop or expunge people charged with marijuana-related crimes that are no longer illegal.  Just last month, Nessel dropped marijuana-related charges against four people in a case out of St. Clair County. That gives Lorello a little bit of hope.

“I think if she sees the case, and looks at the facts that she won’t have a problem with it,” Lorello said. “This guy is continually going after people for marijuana and medical marijuana.”

Lorello’s referring to Cass County prosecutor Victor Fitz who’s known to be outspoken against marijuana. ABC57 asked Fitz Monday if he would consider dropping charges in Cass County marijuana cases now that it’s legal.

“We are continuing to prosecute these cases, as they were criminal in nature at the time of the charged offense,” Fitz said. “I would also note that in a number of pending cases the actions would continue to be criminal if they happened today.  The law only allows for a specific amount of marijuana and/or plants.”

Lorello maintains that the number of plants he was growing collectively with seven other caregivers is legal. He also said that he could have legally sold all of the plants that were seized by Michigan State Police to dispensaries now that recreational marijuana is legalized.

“If this was in just about any other county in Michigan, it wouldn’t be a case like this,” Lorello said. “This prosecutor is asking for 5 or 10 years. There are people that get that for murder. This is medical marijuana.”

Lorello said if the attorney general does not help with his case, he’s going to the governor.

A spokesperson from Attorney General Nessel’s office said it’s unlikely for them to drop charges in cases like Lorello’s unless the local prosecutor asked them to.



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