Michigan Judge Allows Medical Marijuana Defendants’ Use


Photo: Fox 2

​A district judge in Ferndale, Michigan said Thursday he would allow state-approved medical marijuana defendants to keep using cannabis while out on bond — in sharp contrast to a Waterford judge’s statement Tuesday that said pot use by defendants in a parallel case would be a bond violation.

“They have every right to use whatever medications” their physicians authorize, Ferndale District Judge Joseph Longo said.

The contrast in treatment for those arrested in metro Detroit’s first major medical marijuana raids showed just how differently judges can interpret the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, according to Wayne State University law school professor Bob Sedler, reports Bill Laitner of the Detroit Free Press.

Photo: Ferndale Court
Judge Joseph Longo: “They have every right to use whatever medications” their physicians authorize

​​After brief hearings on Thursday for 10 defendants, Judge Longo said that any who were state-approved patients could use marijuana while awaiting trial. The defendants’ next hearing is scheduled for September 20.
Both sets of defendants were arrested August 25 in raids by the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team.
Waterford District Judge Richard Kuhn Jr. on Tuesday said that none of the 13 defendants in cases assigned to him could use marijuana while free on bond, despite doctors’ statements they offered about their medical conditions, and the emotional pleas of their attorneys.
After Kuhn’s ruling, former Oakland County Prosecutor David Borcyca — once a gung-ho drug warrior, now a defense attorney — said Michigan’s medical marijuana law “gives any of these people the right” to use cannabis as medicine.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Thursday that the two groups of defendants included operators and customers of medical marijuana dispensaries, which he claimed are not allowed by Michigan law.
But medical marijuana advocates — and the Sheriff — said the raids and resulting criminal charges — felonies with jail terms of up to seven years — could become landmark cases that force Michigan’s legal system to decide whether dispensaries are legal, among other issues.
Voters in 2008 overwhelmingly passed (63 percent in favor) the state law allowing approved patients to use medical marijuana and authorizing approved caregivers to provide cannabis to them.