Michael Ruggles, 58, a medical cannabis patient and activist who operates the Alternative Pain Management Pu`uhonua’s Collective out of his home in Fern Acres, was raided and arrested on Thursday September 10, 2015.
Ruggles’ private medical cannabis collective provides a means for members to dispose of excess medical cannabis via transfer to other members who have also been authorized to use medical cannabis. Ruggles’ collective allows members to comply with the quantity restrictions set forth in Hawai`i’s medical marijuana laws and maintain an uninterrupted supply of safe medical cannabis.
The police served a search warrant and seized all the medical cannabis being cultivated on the property registered to multiple patients and caregivers, in addition to several Collective member’s excess medical cannabis in its various forms.
All business and tax records, members’ files containing protected health information, electronic devices, fine jewelry, professional music recording gear, other property resident firearms, his daughter’s college text book, a greeting card containing a personal message and some food were also confiscated from the collective. No property receipt was left by the police for the seized items.
Ruggles is being charged with 30 violations for allegedly operating an unauthorized dispensary even though the Pu’uhonua is operated as a collective. Bail has been set at $84,500.
The numerous collective medical cannabis patients who relied on the collective as a safe means to obtain their doctor approved medicine are now being forced to turn to the black market or go without.
The raid was based upon an undercover officer who presented a false doctor’s written certification that stated he was in the process of obtaining a medical marijuana card under an alias and was allowed to be processed as a member.
Under HRS 329 Medical Use of Marijuana Laws, conditions of use are defined and specify that patients must have a written certification under a physician to use medical cannibis and does not require the patient to register with the Department of Health and Department of Safety as a condition of use. It was under this premise, that the undercover officer was allowed to acquire medical cannabis according to a collective volunteer and member.
Ruggles’ is currently being held at a Hilo police cell block and his first court appearance is on Monday September 14 at 1pm. Friends who recently visited Ruggles say that he is in high spirits and prepared to defend the rights of medical cannabis patients to safely dispose and acquire medicine within the confines of the law.