September 12, 2011
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced a Lansing marijuana dispensary owner has been charged with violating Michigan election law for allegedly offering free marijuana to citizens who registered to vote as an inducement to influence their manner of voting. Shekina Pena, 34, owner of Your Healthy Choice Clinic, has been charged with one count of Election Law - Influencing Voters with Money Or Other Valuable Consideration.
"Voters did not intend for marijuana to be handed out as a door prize, especially when it undermines the integrity of our elections process," said Schuette. "Secretary of State Johnson and I will work to ensure that Michigan election law is followed."
"Integrity in elections is sacred to democracy," said Johnson, who has made election reform a top priority for the Michigan Department of State. "The intent of their actions was clear - they offered their customers marijuana in exchange for voter registration. 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."
Investigation by the Attorney General's office revealed that on July 27, 2011, Pena's dispensary allegedly offered free marijuana in exchange for citizens registering to vote. The dispensary allegedly encouraged the newly registered voters to support a certain slate of candidates running for Lansing City Council based on their position regarding regulation of marijuana dispensaries, including the one owned by Pena. The dispensary's website also featured the slogan "Vote for Us and We'll Vote For You."
Michigan Election Law prohibits the provision of anything of value in order to induce or influence the manner of voting (MCL 168.931(1)(a)). Such violations are misdemeanors punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
The charge against Pena was filed today in Lansing's 54A District Court. Pena was arraigned before Judge DeLuca and a personal bond of $3,500 was set. Future court dates have yet to be scheduled.
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