• Christopher Smith, Publisher

Highly Suspect Police Action in Highland Park

Here's a head-scratcher from the ABC news affiliate in Detroit, WXYZ:


[Trigger warning, this story is about police mistreating cannabis operators, which is triggering for many who have experienced the hard heel of Johnny Law's boot. There’s no violence in this story, just all-American assholery]:


We’ve heard all manner of law enforcement's attitude and entitlement in the State of Cannabis News Hour. I thought the all-time winner would be the Bakersfield sheriffs that knocked off three armored cars that were carrying cash from cannabis businesses in broad daylight; stole all their cash; got in the news for doing it, were forced to return the cash, and still had the nerve to say “my sheriffs are not highway robbers.”


... second-place trophy for the broad-daylight knock-over of Jungle Boys shop in Los Angeles... Come to think of it, we’ve heard a lot of these stories recently (social media is good for exposing corruption). These are not the worst, they were only among the most recent.


And here’s a new entry in the Cannabis Hall of Shame:


“On the night before Christmas 2020 in Highland Park, Illinois, Hubert Yopp was stirring.” Serving his second tour in the city’s big chair, the Mayor was captured on surveillance video circling a particular building on Hamilton Avenue. It had once been a church, but it had recently closed.


Justyna and Matt Kozbial had bought it, fixed it up and they were using it to grow medical marijuana. The couple, who both immigrated from Poland, say they secured 13 caregiver licenses that gave them permission to grow in excess of 150 marijuana plants. But on this day, Yopp and then-police chief Kevin Coney were making an unannounced visit, according to police records, to (finger quotes) “conduct a fire inspection.”


After Yopp and Coney gained access to the building, they saw marijuana being grown inside and deemed the former church “(an) illegal narcotics operation." Using the state’s asset forfeiture laws, they seized the entire 13,000-square-foot building.


And after 510 days, they’re still holding the building, even though the Kozbials have never been charged with a crime. And here’s where we venture into the twilight zone: “Months later as the Kozbials tried to get their building back, Justyna says the city made an unusual offer:

“They offered to give the building back for two police cars”

  • The offer is spelled out in court records: Stop growing marijuana and buy the city two new police cars, and we’ll give you your building back.

  • In fact, according to an email from a Highland Park lieutenant, they had two vehicles in mind from a local Ford dealer totaling nearly $70,000

  • And by the way, the City didn’t tell the County it had seized the building for 8 months, and then tried to cut its own deal with the Kozbials for the cars. Both actions are no bueno…

THE LOOP BACK

"It was a shakedown with a badge and a lawyer," the Kozbial’s lawyer, Marc Deldin said

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Image source: Photo by Darya Sannikova: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-sitting-on-steps-2927515/