Judge: Medical marijuana cards merely a defense, not a guarantee; marijuana charges reinstated against 2 men
Local law enforcement won a recent court decision in a medical marijuana case when a Macomb County Circuit Court judge reversed a district court judge who invalidated an arrest warrant against two men.
Judge David Viviano overturned Judge William Hackel III of 42-II District Court in New Baltimore and reinstated drug manufacturing charges against Kent R. Currie, 39, of Kimball Township, and Dean M. Ferretti, 36, of Clinton Township, for an alleged marijuana-growing operation in Lenox Township.
Assistant Macomb prosecutor William Dailey was pleased with the ruling, saying it will help guide medical marijuana users in what they can do and police in their actions in enforcing marijuana laws in light of the state Medical Marihuana Act.
“The more courts interpret the statute and make concrete rulings, it becomes easier for people to know when they’re running afoul of the MMA,” he said. “And it provides more guidance for law enforcement.
“We look forward to the opportunity to present our case in court.”
The men were originally charged identically with three counts of delivery or manufacture of marijuana and maintaining a drug house.
A new court date has not been set.
The case originated in early 2010 when police began an investigation based on a tip. Officers stopped Currie and Ferretti on Jan. 21, 2010, as they drove away from a home on 28 Mile Road and found two bags containing 12.1 ounces of marijuana. Currie and Ferretti presented cards issued through the state Medical Marihuana Act, but police still arrested them and raided the house.
Hackel threw out the case, ruling the warrant invalid. He said police should have tried to obtain a new warrant from a judge with the additional information.
But Viviano recently ruled the warrant remained good because possession of MMA cards merely provides the men a defense against criminal charges.
“Defendants … may assert the immunity and defense provisions of the MMA if they have complied with MMA’s requirements to avoid prosecution,” Viviano says in the opinion. “The possibility that defendants have an affirmative defense to the charges does not negate probable cause of issuing the warrant.”
Viviano notes that Currie and Ferretti appeared to violate the MMA as they “possessed marijuana in excess of the statutory limit and sold marijuana.”
Each patient card holder is allowed to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 12 plants. Caregiver card holders are allowed to possess marijuana for five patients and themselves. The law says caregivers may receive “compensation for costs,” the law says.
It is unclear whether Currie and Ferretti possessed patient or caregiver cards.
Detective Brian Shock of Roseville police, which received the initial tip in the case, testified at the district court preliminary examination that an informant told him Currie was selling “good” marijuana for $300 per ounce to the informant, who did not have an MMA card.
Police had other evidence of a “large marijuana grow operation” at the house, Viviano says. DTE Energy indicated the residence had two energy meters that showed “a very large increase” in use, and thermal imaging showed “heat anomalies consistent with indoor marijuana manufacturing,” the judge says.