Medical marijuana clinic owner charged with trading pot for votes

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 12:38 EDT
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The owner of a medical marijuana clinic in Michigan is facing criminal charges this week after it offered a half-gram of free weed in exchange for patients registering to vote.

Shekina Pena, 34, owner of the Your Healthy Choice Clinic in Lansing, Mich., was officially charged on Monday with “Influencing Voters with Money Or Other Valuable Consideration” under the state’s election laws.

For her part, Pena insisted that it was not an attempt to trade marijuana for votes, telling The Michigan Messenger that it was a “discount” intended to “help out those who wasted their gas to come in here.”

The prosecution will likely cite an entry to Pena’s website from back in July. She wrote: “All dispensaries are doing a voter registration drive. If you sign up at Your Healthy Choice, we will assist you in filling out the registration form and will mail it out for you. We believe in power in numbers and everyone taking a stand. So in appreciation, we will reward legal patients with a .5 gram free or a free medible! I’m planning an event for the preliminary voting that will have shuttles to the polls! We have to amend our Lansing ordinance! May God bless our efforts!”

“The intent of their actions was clear – they offered their customers marijuana in exchange for voter registration,” Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said in an advisory. “They also supplied a slate of their preferred candidates. This goes beyond election shenanigans. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Michigan election laws prohibit offering anything of value to “induce or influence the manner of voting.”

While the court date has not been scheduled, Pena could face up to 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.

Photo credit: Flickr commons.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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