Lawyers for Cannabis
Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act
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IF YOU DON’ T FOLLOW THE MRTMA
After Michigan decided to legalize recreational marijuana on November 6, 218, several county prosecutors across Michigan have started dismissing cases involving marijuana. Oakland County prosecutors have already tossed various cases with pending charges in the district and circuit court systems. Also, Muskegon County prosecutors have dismissed all pending marijuana cases that comply with the requirements of the recently passed proposal. Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Calhoun County have also followed suit. While there are still avenues to violating the law, prosecuting offices have been considering what they will do with pending cases involving use, possession, manufacture or delivery.
Clare County prosecutors have plans to dismiss several pending cases limited to possession charges, whereas Kent County is looking into dismissing cases that involve use or possession of marijuana. Most dismissals are based on a case by case basis. In Ingham county, while magistrates are no longer accepting warrant requests for marijuana related crimes, the cases already pending are being looked at closely before being dismissed.
Some counties are not being as lenient however. In Wayne County, a prosecutor has stated that her office is committed to following the law regarding the prosecution of marijuana cases. Additionally, Wexford County is choosing not to dismiss pending cases of any sort. While pending cases are more likely to be dismissed at this time several counties are considering what to do regarding applying the new marijuana statute retroactively to cases that have already been prosecuted.
If you have a pending marijuana charge and want to better understand how the legalization of recreational marijuana will affect your current situation, you need a lawyer that understands Michigan marijuana law. Call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at (517) 512-8364.
A registered primary caregiver was charged with manufacturing 20 or more but fewer than 200 marijuana plants, possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony and possessing with intent to deliver 5 kilograms or more but less than 45 kilograms of marihuana. Those are some pretty serious charges. A §8 defense was raised by defendant but the trial court did not allow him to present his affirmative defense at trial. The trial court determined that defendant did not satisfy his burden of presenting prima facie evidence for each element of §8 of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA). The element at issue was the existence of a bona fide physician-patient relationship.
Section 8 states that a primary caregiver has the burden of establishing by prima facie evidence the elements of subsection (a)(1) for each patient to whom the primary caregiver is alleged to have unlawfully provided marihuana. The Supreme Court in People v. Hartwick reduced the requirements of (a)(1) into three elements:
1. The existence of a bona fide physician-patient relationship,
2. In which the physician completes a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, and
3. From which results the physician’s professional opinion that the patient has a debilitating medical condition and will likely benefit from the medical use of marijuana to treat the medical condition.
Defendant and his registered qualifying patients testified about their interactions with a Dr. Kattoo. The Court found that only one patient was able provide evidence to support a bona fide physician-patient relationship. The Court noted that no actual medical records or testimony from certifying physicians was admitted into evidence. “Without the showing of records the trial court could not determine whether records were created and maintained in accordance with medically-accepted standards.”
A Section 8 defense to a crime involving marijuana is no easy task. Call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at 517-512-8364 to speak to a cannabis warrior.
In People v. Mansour, defendant’s home was searched by police and an indoor marijuana grow operation was discovered in her basement. The grow consisted of 126 plants and approximately 550 grams of marijuana buds on a drying rack. Mansour was charged with 1 count of delivery or manufacture of marijuana and 1 count of delivery or manufacture of 20 or more marijuana plants. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges based on her status as a registered medical marijuana patient, which allows her to be entitled to immunity under §4 of the MMMA.
This provision states that, “a qualifying patient…shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty….for the medical use of marijuana…provided that the qualifying patient possesses an amount of marijuana that does not exceed 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.” MCL 333.26424(a)(emphasis added).
Under MCL 333.26423(n), “usable marijuana” includes the dried leaves and flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof.” Defendant argued that the 550 grams of marijuana buds were “unusable” because they were not yet dry and therefore must be excluded when considering her claim of immunity under §4 of the MMMA.
Prosecution argued that the precedent of People v. Carruthers, 301 Mich App 590, 609; 837 NW2d 16 (2013), is controlling and that the court must look at the total amount of marijuana defendant was found in possession of, not just the amount of “usable” marijuana. In Carruthers, defendant was found to be possession of marijuana infused brownies which was not considered to be usable marijuana under the MMMA. The Court concluded that if a registered patient is in possession of any marijuana that is not considered usable marijuana then he or she possesses an amount that is in excess of the permitted amount of usable marijuana. Following this decision, the Legislature expanded the MMMA definition of usable marijuana, effective December 2016.
Defendant argued that People v. Manuel, 319 Mich App 291; 901 NW2d 118(2017), should be the controlling precedent of the Court which would limit the amount of marijuana defendant was found in possession of to only the usable marijuana. In Manual, the defendant was both a qualified patient and a primary caregiver which allowed him to be in possession of up to 15 ounces. The amount he was found to be in possession of exceeded 15 ounces, but defendant argued that the marijuana was in “various stages of drying” and therefore was unusable by definition. Id at 123. The Court held that due to the marijuana being unusable defendant was entitled to §4 immunity.
In this case the Court held to interpret §4 immunity as it did in Carruthers, utilizing a two prong test that asks, “whether a possessor of marijuana possesses an allowed quantity of usable marijuana” and further inquiries “whether that person possesses any quantity of marijuana that does not constitute usable marijuana under the term-of-art- definition of the MMMA.” Carruthers, 301 Mich App at 610. Based on this approach, a registered qualifying patient in possession of any amount of marijuana that does not qualify as usable marijuana is not entitled to immunity under §4 of the MMMA. Therefore, defendant is considered to be in possession of marijuana that is not usable so she is not entitled to §4 immunity.
Michigan’s laws on marijuana are constantly changing. Make sure you are not caught off guard and ensure your interests are represented by competent and experienced attorneys who actually know a thing or two about cannabis. Call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers today at 517-512-8364.
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