Michigan Supreme Court To Clarify Medical Marijuana Rules


Photo: LAist

​The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to hear several cases that could clarify the rules surrounding the state’s medical marijuana law, approved by an overwhelming 63 percent of voters in 2008.

One Shiawassee County patient with a medical cannabis card who grew marijuana in a backyard structure wants the criminal charges against him dismissed, reports Rick Pluta at Interlochen Public Radio. Police cited him for not having the grow area locked and enclosed.
In another case, an Oakland County man fighting pot possession charges is using for his defense the fact that he’s a medicinal cannabis patient, even though at the time of this arrest he had not yet obtained his medical marijuana card.

In both cases, drug charges were dismissed by trial judges but restored by the Michigan Court of Appeals, reports The Associated Press. The Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals in brief orders released on Thursday.

Photo: montcalm.org
Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea Krause: “I hope they give us some clear direction”

​Supreme Court justices said they would welcome any input from the attorney general and the associations representing Michigan defense lawyers and prosecutors, as well as attorneys in the two cases.
The court cases are working their way through the legal system as Michigan communities are sorting it all out, drafting and re-drafting ordinances regarding medical marijuana dispensaries. Meanwhile, the Legislature is debating additional laws to stake out the rules surrounding medical marijuana.
However, many medical marijuana advocates say the efforts are actually an attempt to subvert the law and the will of the voters, who chose to allow patients with chronic or terminal conditions to use and posses cannabis with a doctor’s approval.
Some Michigan judges won’t even follow the state’s medical marijuana law, citing federal bans on possessing cannabis for any purpose. It’s not clear if the state Supreme Court will address that issue, according to AP.
“There are certainly a lot of gray areas in the law,” said Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea Krause, reports John Tunison at The Grand Rapids Press. “I hope they give us some clear direction.”
Krause said she hopes the courts can eventually give clear direction on the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries. “We have had quite a few pop up lately in Montcalm County,” she said.
Kent County Sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Coxon with the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team estimated about half of the team’s cases have some connection to medical marijuana.
Coxon advocates a database to let police know who is growing medical marijuana, but privacy laws prohibit that. Police are currently obligated to check out complaints about possible illegal growing operations, but might not have to if a databse existed, Coxon said.
Members of the State Bar of Michigan’s criminal law section are recommending the state follow Colorado and allow commercial sales of medical marijuana “with strict oversight.”