ACLU To City: Give That Man His Marijuana Back


Photo: David N. Posavetz/Macomb Daily
This is the amount of marijuana — seven grams, or a quarter ounce — Royal Oak police seized from registered patient Christopher Frizzo.

​The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan is asking the city of Royal Oak to return medical marijuana that it says was illegally confiscated from a man during a traffic stop last month.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the police chief and city attorney, the ACLU said Royal Oak isn’t abiding by the law passed by 60 percent of Michigan’s voters in 2008, reports Catherine Kavanaugh at the Oakland County Daily Tribune.
Dan Korobkin, staff attorney with ACLU of Michigan, said the actions of the Royal Oak Police Department show a misunderstanding of the new law.

Graphic: Reality Catcher

​”The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act is clear: If you are a registered medical marijuana patient and you have less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana, it doesn’t matter where you got it from — it can’t be taken from you and you can’t be arrested,” Korobkin said.
Royal Oak City Attorney David Gillam confirmed that he received the email Tuesday morning.
“I did receive the letter and I will review it with the chief of police,” Gillam said.
On January 11, David Frizzo, 46, a Royal Oak resident and registered medical marijuana patient with multiple sclerosis, was stopped by police for an improper lane change.
Frizzo told the officer he was carrying a small amount of marijuana, and showed the officer his registration card. The officer then confiscated the marijuana because he said Frizzo’s supplier is not officially registered as his caregiver.
Police Chief Christopher Jahnke told the Daily Tribune the officer “was obligated” to confiscate the marijuana. The chief claimed the seven grams of cannabis Frizzo possessed “wasn’t for medical use in the eyes of the law.”
“He told us he got it from someone other than a caregiver,” Jahnke said. “His marijuana — not his medical marijuana — was taken because he got it illegally.”
Interesting how Chief Jahnke gets to decide that it’s “not medical marijuana,” when it was taken from a legal medical marijuana patient!
In its three-page letter dated February 16, the ACLU said the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act forbids such police action.
“Any marihuana… that is possessed, owned, or used in connection with the medical use of marihuana, as allowed under this act, or acts incidental to such use, shall not be seized or forfeited,” the letter says, citing the law.
The letter is signed by Korobkin and Michael J. Steinberg, legal director at ACLU of Michigan.
The state’s medical marijuana law marks a change in Michigan’s drug policies, and requires local officials to make adjustments in their law enforcement practices, according to the ACLU lawyers.
“Law enforcement officials must follow the law as it is written, not as they may wish it to be,” Korobkin said.
“I think Royal Oak has it wrong,” Korobkin said. “If you have less than 2.5 ounces, it doesn’t matter whether you got it from a supplier who isn’t registered or it dropped from the sky. If you’re a registered patient, it can’t be taken from you. You can’t be arrested. You can’t be prosecuted. It’s not contraband.”
The ACLU wants Royal Oak to train police officers and provide assurance medical marijuana won’t be seized again during traffic stops.
“Innocent registered patients who are complying with the law shouldn’t be subject to arrest or having their medical marijuana confiscated,” Korobkin said.
The ACLU asked city officials to either return Frizzo’s medical marijuana to him, or to compensate him for it.
Korobkin said he didn’t know the value of the seven grams of cannabis.