MICHIGAN: Dennis Forsberg thought he was doing everything right. He had filed all the necessary paperwork and cleared his business plan with attorneys, local government officials and law enforcement. He created new companies and got a federal tax ID number. He wasn’t trying to hide anything. Yet in the end, he still got burned.
On Tuesday, the 59-year-old Okemos businessman is headed to federal prison in North Carolina for three years because he found himself in the dangerous intersection between state and federal marijuana laws. His son, Lance, has already started serving a three-year sentence in West Virginia.
“We worked so hard to be transparent,” Forsberg says. “But it worked against us.”
Forsberg’s error was leasing some of the buildings owned by the family real estate company to licensed growers, or caregivers, under Michigan’s medical marijuana law. Now instead of enjoying retirement and spoiling grandchildren, the father of four will spend years away from his family and life — even though everything he did was legal under state law. He’s outraged.
“The crime and punishment don’t make sense,” Forsberg says. “I had a great track record, and they do this to good people who think they are under the law.”
Forsberg’s wife, JoAnn, faces a lonely three years without her husband of nearly 40 years and her son. Plus, the couple still have two children in college, and finances will be tight with Forsberg behind bars. “We got caught in a trap between state and federal law,” she says.